TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Unified School District governing board approved a list of 25 books for culturally relevant courses in US history and government Tuesday night. The vote was close with three members voting for the list and two voting against it. And those who opposed the district's termination of Mexican American Studies two years ago had criticism of the list.
"We are bringing Mexican American perspectives into this curriculum. There's not one Chicano author on the list that you're going to approve tonight. How are you going to have Chicano perspectives with no Chicano authors?" MAS supporter David Morales asked the board.
Culturally relevant courses are part of the districts unitary status plan, which aims to satisfy a federal desegregation order. The classes are part of the district's plan to show that students of all backgrounds receive the same achievement opportunities. But Mexican American Studies supporters said that while the classes show that the federal order is working , these classes are no replacement for the ones they had a few years ago. The district ended those classes after the state passed a law that prohibited them.
"I don't think our community fought here for so long to simply leave it up to administrators or bureaucrats to say this is what you're going to get. Because I think as a community we have a role in that and this is the beginning of the process," said Roberto Rodriguez, a supporter of MAS and a professor of the classes at the University of Arizona.
TUSD superintendent H.T. Sanchez told the board that books and materials can be added to the list with board approval in the future.
"This is the list we have today. As with any curriculum, as new materials become available or as teachers find information that they find fits what they are working with, as they make recommendations to us, will bring them back up to the board," he said.