« Federal Officials Grant Florida Waiver on English-Learner Testing | Main | Federal Civil Rights Officials Release Guidance on English-Language Learners »

Arizona District Fights to Keep Ethnic Studies Classes

Tucson Unified School District Superintendent H.T. Sanchez will fight to save the school system's culturally relevant classes, despite facing the loss of million of dollars in funding, the Arizona Daily Star reports.


Former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal deemed several courses illegal during his final hours in office on Friday, leaving one of the state's largest school districts facing a possible funding loss of $14 million annually.

In a statement, Huppenthal said the district failed to provide adequate information to the state on Mexican-American and African-American heritage courses. In Huppenthal's letter to the district, he said that Tucson's actions reveal a "program in disarray, with insufficient support for teachers, inadequate teaching to students and little transparency for parents and community members."

The letter demands changes to the curriculum by March 4.

Sanchez told the newspaper that he is hopeful that the matter will be resolved by appeal or by Huppenthal's successor, Diane Douglas, who was sworn in to office this week. Sanchez also told the Daily Star that district could not endure the loss of funds, but he wants to remain in compliance with a federal court order that mandates that the courses be taught.


The issue dates back to 2011, when a state law went into effect prohibiting districts and charter schools from offering classes that promote overthrowing the U.S. government, promote resentment for a certain race or class of people, are geared for students of a particular ethnic background, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of recognizing students as individuals. In 2013, a federal court upheld the law.


The Tucson district appealed after then-state schools Superintendent Tom Horne also found the district's ethnic studies classes to be in violation of state law.


Tucson dropped the courses in 2012 under the threat of losing state funding and agreed to submit a revised curriculum to the state Department of Education, which Huppenthal deemed insufficient.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more