Tuesday, July 10, the TUSD school board will vote on bringing back a course created by the University of Arizona's Freedom Center — Philosophy 101: Ethics, Economy and Entrepreneurship.
I expect we'll see some post-July 4 fireworks during the meeting's Call to the Audience. How will the board vote? I don't have a clue, though I expect it'll go 3-2 either way.
Last October I wrote a column in the Weekly
print edition about the Phil 101 course. Some of what I wrote was news to members of the school board who didn't know the course existed (it never went to the board for approval), much less that it was created and sponsored by the Koch Brothers-backed Freedom Center at University of Arizona. It was also news to most of Tucson.
In December, the board voted 4-1 to cancel the course at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Tuesday they're taking a second look. If the item passes, the course will no longer fulfill the state economics requirement as it did before. It will be an elective. However, it will still be a dual credit course, meaning students can take it for both UA and high school credit.
Some UA profs who know more about economics than I do say Phil 101 is a shoddy course using a shoddy textbook (Course and textbook were created by the same people at the Freedom Center).
What I know is, the course was designed to promote a libertarian agenda, and it's no more than two degrees of separation from the billionaire Koch Brothers' decades-long campaign to push their agenda in Congress, state legislatures, colleges and high schools around the country. UA's Freedom Center and the Phil 101 course are among the campaign's recent success stories.
The course was created and promoted using a $2.9 million grant from a private foundation. The price tag alone is a warning sign that some folks with deep pockets really, really want this to happen. I can't think of another instance where someone put that kind of money behind the creation of a single high school course.
Another warning sign. The foundation's website said it hopes by 2025, the course "will reach some 25,000 high school students — roughly 25 percent of Arizona's high school student population."
They're looking to see some serious libertarian-infused bang for their bucks. It's likely the vote isn't a done deal. If you want to make your opinions known to board members before the Tuesday meeting, here are the emails they list on the TUSD website:
Michael Hicks: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristel Foster: email@example.com
Adelita Grijalva: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachael Sedgwick: email@example.com
Mark Stegeman: firstname.lastname@example.org