The shutting down of Tucson’s highly acclaimed ethnic studies program is finally making the national news, and I’m glad–glad to see the outrage over this going national, because the more outcry there is, and the more action against the decision, the better.
But. There’s something about the politics of this all that’s being lost on many non-local readers. Which is, specifically: it’s not Tucson that decided to shut the program down. Or at least, not willingly.
For more than a year students and teachers and the schools have been fighting this law. Until, in the past few weeks, the Superintendent of Education, based in Phoenix, decided to cut 10% of Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) funding if the program remained. That’s when the district finally caved. I hate that they did. I also have no idea how our-already stressed school district could possibly have operated at all with a 10% funding cut. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have.
The law TUSD lawmakers were found in violation of also came out of Phoenix, specifically the Phoenix legislature. Phoenix makes up more than half the population of the state, so in many cases that one city really can decide what’s right for all the cities in the state, even cities they don’t understand, even cities who embrace their multicultural culture–as Phoenix, or at least the Phoenix-based legislature, does not.
So when talking about the issue, and when looking for where to direct your efforts to change it, don’t talk about it as a Tucson issue. Know that it’s an Arizona issue, and a Phoenix legislature issue, and that Tucson, for the most part, would rather let this program stand. There are legal challenges. We’re still hoping, one day, it will.
karenhealey has a pretty good rundown of the situation. (My understanding is the books involved will at least remain in the school libraries–but have been removed because the classes have been cancelled or altered.)