Listen to Your Heart

I'm not sure what kind of heart John Huppenthal has, but he must have something under that political suit. He has a family and even though he forgets his childhood days in Tucson, you'd think there must be a bit of Old Pueblo there somewhere. But maybe not.

This is racist Arizona after all, and not the Baja version we love to brag about in these parts. As he left office last week, Huppenthal set his legacy as state Superintendent of Public Instruction, when he reached back to that disgusting anti-Mexican-American studies law, finding Tucson Unified School District out of compliance. Now our equally brilliant new state supe Diane Douglas gets her turn. At this point its a game, yet it remains a game worth watching, and if those Baja sensibilities mean anything to you, it's going to be a game you're going to want to participate.

Huppenthal claims that the new culturally relevant courses that replaced the former ethnic studies classes are to blame, classes that came about through the district's federally mandated desegregation plan. He doesn't like a U.S. history class taught from the Mexican-American perspective because it includes too much Mexican history: "In this class we will study the history and culture of Chicano, Mexicano and indigenous people throughout the United States and Mexico. This class is intended to get students to become critically conscious about the society that we live in and the history that has made it what it is today."

He doesn't like another course because it teaches lyrics from bands like Rage Against the Machine. Remember, one of the facets of this Mexican-American studies law is that those old classes encouraged the over throw of the US government. I wonder if Rage's lead singer Zack de la Rocha is ready to return to Tucson to help defend his lyrics, these classes and a new group of students now under attack.

It's this continued run of racism from our state officials that make it embarrassing to call Arizona home, at least that part of Arizona. But at the same time, what's remarkable this round in the fight are the statements coming from a new district superintendent. It's true we haven't always been easy on H.T. Sanchez since his move to Tucson from Texas.

Back when he started he didn't like the fact that we said he was taking over a beleaguered school district. That adjective bothered him, and I was left wondering if he knew what we'd just been through and what was around the corner.

I think he does now. Maybe.

I was heartened by the statement he released on Friday: "The state of Arizona has repeatedly attempted to intervene in the districts active desegregation case for the stated purpose of controlling the district's implementation of federal court-mandated curriculum. These courses were developed specifically under the court order. That order—the Unitary Status Plan—requires us to develop and implement culturally relevant courses taught from both the Mexican American and African American perspectives."

"This threatened enforcement proceeding is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the federal court orders denying the State's intervention. It seeks to undermine our compliance with the curriculum mandates of the Unitary Status Plan," Sanchez wrote.

"I look forward to sitting down with in-coming Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas when she takes office later this month. During the election Ms. Douglas emphasized local control for curriculum decisions and we are eager to work with her as we continue to satisfy both state and federal law."

During the last fight, many in support of the Mexican-American studies classes begged TUSD to take up the fight because the last desegregation plan included the classes. Here we are again. Sanchez sounds like he's ready to fight if needed. Certainly he'd have a federal judge on this side and a majority on the governing board who supports the classes.

So Baja, how about you? You ready for the fight too? Are you ready to support Sanchez and hold him accountable?

Mari Herreras, Managing Editor

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