The Return of Mexican American Studies to Tucson

Arizona state law dismantled the Mexican American Studies program offered by the Tucson Unified School District with a ban on ethnic studies courses passed three years ago. But due to a judge’s desegregation order, the program appears to be headed for a resurrection.

The course was removed due to the ban– but a judge’s order for “culturally relevant” classes appears to be enough to revive it. According to an NPR report, the Mexican American Studies courses were originally created due to a desegregation order.

Classes haven’t resumed and apparently district officials are working to ensure that they offer a program that is acceptable to the state. The program had been criticized by critics who said it fostered anger toward Anglos.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal has also commented on the difficulty of bringing back classes that he would deem acceptable.

“Do you cover those injustices in a way in which we say these are profound things that we should be aware of and we have to work in this country to make this country a better place? Or do you use those injustices to create racial division, and do you use those injustices to create hatred?” asked Huppenthal, according to NPR.

Related Links:

– “Tucson Revives Mexican-American Studies Program,” NPR. 

– Mexican American Studies May Return to Tucson, Arizona, Kind Of. The Huffington Post. 

– “Rift in Arizona as Latino Class is Found Illegal,” The New York Times. 

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At Arizona School, Latino Parents Learn English From Other Parents

At one Arizona elementary school, parents are participating in a dual-language program of sorts.

Language differences can be a barrier from immigrant Hispanic parents feeling welcome at their children’s schools. But Fox News Latino reports that at Navajo Elementary School in Arizona, Spanish and English-speaking parents are meeting up for several hours a week to learn each others’ respective languages.

The school is located in Scottsdale, and about one-third of the students are Hispanic, and half are white. Despite being located in the wealthy city, the particular campus itself is a Title 1 school, where many children qualify for free lunches.

Parent Teacher Organization member Anna Lawrence came up with the idea, after becoming concerned that the Spanish-speaking parents did not feel comfortable at the school and it was discouraging them from being more involved. The parents are learning with the help of the program babbel.com.

Parent Sarah Birkett told Fox that the program has drawn her closer, with her even visiting another family’s home to learn how to make tortillas.

The program says “hey, you’re safe here, we’re all working together,” she said.

This program is interesting, because from what I’ve seen schools often have separate meetings depending on parents’ languages. This program operates more like two-way dual language programs that children participate in–learning each others’ languages in part from each other.

Have you seen any similar grassroots efforts bringing immigrant and American parents closer in your area?

Related Links:

– “Arizona Program Helps Latino Parents Navigate School System,” Fox News Latino.

– Navajo Elementary School