Petition Closed
Petitioning Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal

Tell Superintendent of Public Instruction Putting Books In Storage Does Not Promote Education


 

In the past year, Superintendant John Huppenthal has ruled twice that the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is in violation of Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A). Most recently, his ruling resulted in the suspension of the TUSD’s Mexican American Studies courses and put several of the course books into storage, which include:
-  Message to Aztlán, Rodolfo Gonzales
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paolo Freire
- Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Rodolfo Acuña
- Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, a collection of works by authors such as Leslie Silko, Winona LaDuke, N. Scott Momaday, and Rigoberta Menchu

 

While these books can still be checked out from the libraries, they are no longer being taught in classes!  The alternative facing TUSD would have been the loss of over $14 million in state funding for 2012 and roughly an additional $5 million withheld retroactively for 2011. No school district should have to unfairly choose between receiving funding and providing culturally appropriate education.

 

John Huppenthal claims that TUSD was in violation of Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A), which states:
a school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that include any of the following:
1. Promote the overthrow of the United States Government.
2. Promote resentment towards a race or class of people.
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals. (www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/hb2281s.pdf)

 

However, Huppenthal’s ruling is in fact unfounded and contradicts findings from an audit that he commissioned (for $110,000) to investigate the curriculum. The audit, done by Cambium Learning, Inc. and National Academic Educational Partners, found that the TUSD Mexican American Studies curriculum was not in violation of Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A) (http://www.scribd.com/doc/58025928/TUSD-ethnic-studies-audit). And while Huppenthal is quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying the curriculum teaches “that Hispanics are the oppressed and Caucasians are the oppressors” the audit reports “No observable evidence exists that instruction within Mexican American Studies Department promotes resentment towards a race or class of people” and that “students are taught to be accepting of multiple ethnicities of people” (p. 55). Moreover, the audit states that “the expectation for increased student achievement for all students of all ethnicities will increase over time” (pp. 68 & 69).

 

Huppenthal’s ruling is clearly an issue of unfounded censorship that silences voices of diversity, including the voices of Latino, Chicano, and Native American scholars. It is both a threat to and an attack on cultural diversity and inter-cultural understanding.

 

Superintendent Huppenthal must reverse his decision. If he does so, then the TUSD can reinstate its Mexican American Studies courses and once again use these books without any consequence of losing state funding.

 

Please sign this petition and share it with others!

Letter to
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal
I just signed the following petition addressed to: John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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Dear Mr. Huppenthal,

I strongly urge you to reverse your ruling that the Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) Mexican American Studies courses are in violation of Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A).

Your ruling resulted in the recent suspension of TUSD’s Mexican American Studies curriculum, accompanied by the discontinuation of teaching several books, including Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, a collection of essays by Native American and Latino scholars, Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Rodolfo Gonzales’s Message to Aztlán.

The alternative was for TUSD to face over $14 million in budget cuts in 2012 and about $5 million dollars withheld retroactively — clearly not a fair choice for any public school district.

Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A) reads, “a school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that include any of the following:
1. Promote the overthrow of the United States Government.
2. Promote resentment towards a race or class of people.
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

However, the results from an independent audit that you yourself commissioned found that “no observable evidence was present to suggest that Arizona Revised Statutes 15-112(A) is in violation of the law within any observed classroom in the Tucson Unified School District.” The audit actually recommended that the district “maintain” its Mexican American studies courses and even “consider expanding” them, with the expectation of “increased student achievement for all students of all ethnicities.” Without a doubt, your ruling contradicts the evidence and is harming the educational experience of Arizona’s youth.

Please consider reversing your unfounded ruling against TUSD. If you do so, the district will not have to choose between receiving state funding or continuing a culturally enriching program. Reversing your ruling will allow TUSD to once again teach the works of celebrated Chicano and Native American authors.

Reverse your decision and do the right thing in the name of “all students of all ethnicities.”

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Sincerely,