Guest Commentary

Is TUSD fighting for failure?

Tucson Unified School District's University High School has been consistently rated as one of the best high schools in the country. Unfortunately, this fact has come to the attention of the powers that be and they are taking steps to correct the problem.

University High is a college preparatory magnet school, and the only TUSD school to which applying students must have a 3.0 grade-point average in certain core courses. This ensures that the University High student body will be able to succeed in an accelerated academic environment.

Modern professional educators have a method for thwarting the success of students, and specific programs. It is to launch an assault on standards. In this case, the 3.0 GPA prerequisite. There is a proposal to include the "enthusiasm" of a prospective student as a factor. If his enthusiasm is high, he need not meet the standard. I'm not making this up.

To inoculate themselves against criticism, they have gone through the famous desegregation lawsuit filed more than 40 years ago. By the way, a lawsuit that is more than 40 years old and in which the original plaintiffs are long gone is no longer a real court case. It is a tool with which some wield power and others make money. That is why it has not been resolved in more than 40 years, and probably never will be.

Those in TUSD who have set their sights on University High point out that the total high school student enrollment in the district is 27.8 percent white, 6.2 percent black and 57.4 percent Hispanic, while University High is 50.5 percent white, 1.6 percent black and 31.8 percent Hispanic. Enter the de-segregators. (Interestingly, the demographics of University High do come close to those of the Tucson community at large).

One might infer from the presentation of these data that the term "Hispanic" refers to a specific race other than black or white. It does not. As the U.S. Census Bureau says, "Except where noted, 'race' refers to people reporting only one race. 'Hispanic' refers to an ethnic category; Hispanics may be of any race."

In more rational times, when educators wanted to increase participation of a specific group they would develop a plan to help members of that group meet the standard. Instead, today's educators come up with a workaround to avoid the standard. This approach proves that these educators do not have the interests of the students at heart—particularly those who will be exempted from the academic standard and thrust into an accelerated learning environment for which they are ill prepared.

So, what are our professional educators' motivations? One can only speculate. Perhaps they are afraid that if the Hispanic kids become successful adults they might start to vote for Republicans. No, really, that approach has already been a proven winner for Democrats. Look at the voting patterns of inner-city black residents. These people in poor neighborhoods, who were educated in some of the worst schools the country has to offer, vote for Democrats well in excess of 90 percent of the time. Is it a coincidence that cities that contain these neighborhoods are run by Democrat political machines?

It could be said that both Tucson and Pima County are run by Democrats, though not by a unified political machine. Perhaps that explains the low graduation rates and general academic failure of TUSD.

This failure is so well guarded that when Pima Community College started to require a seventh-grade level of education to take college level courses and receive college financial aid, local activists launched a war against anyone who supported the idea. It should be noted that the policy included free remedial education to bring students up to the seventh-grade level—an old school approach. They attacked the governing board, the chancellor and his replacement with accusations that, for the most part, misrepresented the facts. There were some legitimate claims, though these were apparently considered unimportant when they actually happened. Even the Higher Learning Commission put the school on probation after learning of the policy, although its last inspection for accreditation gave the college two thumbs up at a time when all the alleged malfeasance had already taken place.

While we certainly can't fight a nationwide problem, we can at least demand better from our local educators and officials. If we do not, we will soon find ourselves living in Detroit.

About The Author

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman moved to Tucson from Connecticut in 1977 and never looked back. He attended the UA, ran for City Council Ward III in 2001, and made regular contributions to the Guest Commentary section of the Tucson Weekly for over five years. He helped launch the Southern Arizona News Examiner. He is a former...
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