Doug MacEachern, Arizona Republic, Sept. 19, 2009
It has been a busy summer for our friends running the Tucson Unified School District.
As always, the annual Institute for Transformative Education summer seminar, hosted by TUSD’s amply funded Mexican/American raza-studies program, was fun. So much racial bitterness to obsess over.
Tim Wise, the ultra-angry Tulane University poli-sci grad who has made a great living finding racism under every doormat, was the featured speaker. Everyone was wowed.
But, as always, TUSD’s race-obsessing board of governors is taking racial bean-counting to preposterous extremes.
This summer, the TUSD board adopted a “Post-Unitary Status Plan” that it expects will help the district escape a decades-old federal desegregation order.
The plan includes increasing the number of minority teachers–per the summer hiring spree, which netted 14 special-education teachers and one math-science teacher.
It also includes a vast expansion of the district’s controversial Mexican-American studies program.
The board’s plan also calls for changes intended (however counterproductive those plans may be) to improving the lot of minority students.
It wants to see more minority students enrolled in advanced-placement programs, for example–a laudable goal, certainly. But consider one significant part of the plan for “improving” the academic status of TUSD’s Black and Hispanic students:
The board is calling for a two-tiered form of student discipline. One for Black and Hispanic students; one for everyone else.
With the goal of creating a “restorative school culture and climate” that conveys a “sense of belonging to all students,” the board is insisting that its schools reduce its suspensions and/or expulsions of minority students to the point that the data reflect “no ethnic/racial disparities.”
From the section of the 52-page plan titled “Restorative School Culture and Climate,” subhead, “Discipline”:
“School data that show disparities in suspension/expulsion rates will be examined in detail for root causes. Special attention will be dedicated to data regarding African-American and Hispanic students.”
The board approved creating an “Equity Team” that will oversee the plan to ensure “a commitment to social justice for all students.”
The happy-face edu-speak notwithstanding, what the Tucson Unified School District board of governors has approved this summer is a race-based system of discipline.
Offenses by students will be judged, and penalties meted out, depending on the student’s hue.