Tucson, Ariz. Schools Vow To Keep ‘Ethnic Studies’ Curriculum

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Blake Neff Reporter
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The head of public schools in Tucson, Ariz. says the city’s schoolchildren will continue to be taught a “culturally relevant” curriculum that condemns the Declaration of Independence as full of “lies” and “hypocrisy” even after the state’s superintendent accused it of violating a state ban on ethnic studies classes.

In fact, he says they will expand it.

Superintendent H. D. Sanchez says that, regardless of what the state’s Department of Education says, a federal desegregation court order issued in 2013 requires the school to offer a “culturally relevant” curriculum. As a result, he says the district will expand the curriculum from three high schools in the district to seven.

An Arizona law, passed in 2010, bars schools from teaching courses that advocate ethnic solidarity over treating people as individuals, encourage resentment of particular groups or cultures or promote the overthrow of the United States government. The law was targeted at an ethnic studies program in Tucson which it forced to shut down in 2012. The law has thus far survived a federal court challenge, although oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals are scheduled for next week.

Now, the Arizona Department of Education says Tucson is once again violating the law.

The Department of Education’s renewed concern regarding Tucson’s policies was announced by State Superintendent John Huppenthal on Jan. 2, his final day in office before leaving to be replaced by newly-elected Diane Douglas.

According to Huppenthal, Tucson’s newly-revised classes are in fact little changed from what came before, with ample content that disparages the American government and vilifies whites.

Huppenthal’s letter to Tucson school officials describes numerous class lessons that may violate Arizona’s law. At Cholla High Magnet School, students in a history class were given handouts describing American slavery as “the most brutal in history” and were prompted to explain three ideas in the Declaration of Independence that “are lies, hypocrisy, and break the social contract.”

Additionally, the list of key ideas for a Cholla history course is loaded with concepts taken from the modern far left, including “racial justice theory,” “subtractive schooling” and “resistance theory.”

Sanchez counters, however, that this content is not merely allowed but actually required by the a court ruling in 2013. That year, a federal judge ruled Tucson’s schools were insufficiently desegregated and had to craft new curricula in English and history that would “reflect the history, experiences, and culture of African American and Mexican American communities.”

While the judge at the time said this order did not conflict with Arizona’s ethnic studies law, the district says his intent is irrelevant, as a federal desegregation order will always override state law.

Sanchez says he hopes Douglas, the new Republican superintendent, will be open to his argument.

“In her campaign, she talked about local control and that parents and communities should have a greater say on what happens in the classroom,” Sanchez told the Tucson Weekly. “I’m not going to prejudge her or assume she’ll carry the same badge as her predecessor.”

Tucson schools have a history of politicization. In March of 2014, the school board officially voted itself an “immigrant destination district” overtly supportive of illegal immigrants, and last fall it voted to prohibit school police officers in the district from questioning students about their immigration status.

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