TUSD's Ethnic Studies dropped: The next steps for teachers and students
An Ethnic Studies class in session at TUSD
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Some TUSD teachers and students switched gears today after the Mexican American Studies program was dropped from the schedule. Last night, the TUSD school board voted to end Mexican American courses. The action will avoid 15-million dollars in fines for violating a state law that was created to target TUSD's program.
Last week and this morning, the district met with all principals at every level -- elementary, middle school and high school -- to send out a consistent message on how adjustments will be made.
It will not be an easy transition for many of the teachers and it's still a question mark as to how students will be affected.
For some of the teachers, the transtion will be easier. Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone said, "For example, two of our teachers, who are Mexican American Studies teachers, teach a Mexican American studies class and also a conventional history class. In those cases, they already have syllabi and they have lessons plans and it will be much easier than some others."
So department chairs are working with teachers who need the support to implement the core Social Studies curriculum. Dr. Pedicone says right now the district's goal is to focus on the student's welfare. "No student will lose credit, be sensitive to the fact that there may be some misunderstanding, and do what we can to help students understand what they need to."
KGUN9's Valerie Cavazos asked the superintendent if there are any issues in the classrooms. and what teachers are telling the students?" Pedicone said, "Again, principles have been working on this for some time -- talking to students about the importance of being able to express themselves but not making mistakes in the way they do that. We're being prepared for the potentiality for certain actions to take place, we don't expect that to happen. We hope not."
Dr. Pedicone says he has plans to shift gears to focus all of TUSD's students. "If there's one level of attention that we haven't done as good a job is general overall student achievement. So we're training all of our teachers in instructional models and we trained 4000 teachers the first semester and the same 4000 are getting the second two days of that training next semester."
The schools will still continue teaching lessons in Mexican American history and culture as they are done with other ethnicities. They will be folded into the regular social studies curriculum.
The superintendent says the principals are offering places on campus for students to meet to talk or express themselves about any of their concerns. The district will continue to support its Advocacy for Students program, which includes all ethnicities.