The superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District, H. T. Sanchez, has called local taxpayers with “disposable wealth” a bunch of bigots who must be convinced “to educate kids who don’t look like their kids.”
Sanchez’s spectacular foot-in-mouth moment occurred during an interview on on local station KVOI (1030AM, “Tucson’s intelligent talk radio”). The interview originally aired in September but was then replayed again this month. The second time around, a local firestorm broke out over the superintendent’s remarks.
In his remarks, Sanchez first questioned whether Tucson’s population even cares about education, reports the Arizona Daily Independent. He then suggested that people who make a decent living are inclined to ignore the need for educating “children who don’t look like their children.”
“And you know, I go back to, uh — I go back to — it has to be the will of the citizens in this state to vote in people who value public education, and that’s something that, uh, I really call into question coming in as, uh, an outsider is, uh, how much do we value education?” Sanchez said.
“You know, I do believe that the contemporary challenge we have in the Southwest in particular is: how do you convince people who have disposable income, uh, to educate children who don’t look like their children?” the superintendent blithely continued. “And that’s especially true where we are, in Arizona. The, uh, population that has the disposable wealth — those that have good jobs and good retirement, have, uh, good income — uh, it is, it’s asking them to educate kids who don’t look like their kids or who don’t look like their grandkids.”
(You can hear audio clips of Sanchez’s statements on page 2.)
The superintendent did not say how he arrived at any of his conclusions.
Certainly, Sanchez qualifies as someone with “disposable wealth.” The Daily Independent reports that the Tucson school district approved a $210,000 annual contract for Sanchez in June. Tucson Weekly notes that he will earn $247,000 this year once moving expenses and other perks are included.
The median salary in Tucson is $50,000 per year, according to Indeed.com. Sanchez’s annual base pay of $210,000 is equal to a salary of over $257,000 in Chicago and almost $496,000 in New York City, says Bankrate.com.
While Arizona dwells near the bottom compared to other states in the spending-per-student category, numbers from Arizona’s Office of the Auditor General show that the Tucson school district spent $8,751 per student in 2012. This figure is $1,276 higher than the state average of $7,475 per student. It puts local students on a par with higher-ranking states such as Texas (where Sanchez last worked) and Colorado.
In the same KVOI interview, Sanchez also called creationism “crazy.” However, he certainly is no shrinking violet when it comes to controversial curricula. Earlier this month, Sanchez and the school board allowed teachers to reintroduce several books from a Mexican-American studies program that promoted “racial resentment against ‘Whites,'” according to a federal judge. (RELATED: Tucson school district just can’t quit racist curriculum)
The texts requested by teachers include “Occupied America,” “Message to Aztlan” and “Chicano!” Two teachers who sought the books — Sally Rusk and Jose Gonzalez — formerly taught the in the racist Mexican-American Studies program.
Sanchez, who holds three degrees including a doctorate from obscure directional-type schools in Texas, had only a couple months of experience as an interim superintendent anywhere before he scored his Tucson gig, according to a letter written by school board member Mark Stegeman.