The DRAFT Unitary Status Plan aka “Desegregation plan” for TUSD: Will MAS and Bilingual Ed return


David Morales

While it is indeed true that the Sheriff Arpaio remains in power in Maricopa County, our neighbors to the north of Tucson, the investigations by the Department of Justice and the new oversight on how federal monies are used will bring about a change to the structure of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that will soon lead to a better day for Latinos who have to live under the tyrannical rule of The Toughest Sheriff in the Nation who loves watching Latino men sweat while wearing pink underwear. A similar situation exists in the Tucson Unified School District under John Pedicone’s rule. The superintendent of Tucson’s largest school district, made famous nationwide as the place that banned Ethnic Studies and that banned books, including Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” from use by Latino teachers if they focus on the “race, class, and oppression” contained with the story about slavery and colonization of the New World, is still in control and will be for a while. It is no coincidence that Pedicone has pushed forward a fake fi scal emergency that is closing down neighborhood schools in his last days without closer federal oversight that, once in place, will change the way he governs the over 60% Latino district forever.


The Parties Imagine a guilty defendant, after being found guilty of racist treatment of Latino and Black children in a court of law, being able to set the terms of their own punishment, or having a “veto” vote over whatever is decided. This happens almost never. Imagine Jared Loughner telling the judge that he disagrees with his sentence, but instead of having to appeal to a higher court, his disagreement is actually taken into account and the judge has to compromise with the guilty party. As ridiculous as this sounds, this is situation that our great American Justice system has in store for the racist treatment against Latino and Black schoolchildren today. The guilty party gets to set the terms of their punishment, and they are also in charge of fixing their own racism. You can see the problems that will, and that have arisen, in such a silly system of justice for victims of segregation in the school system. Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), the largest school district in Tucson, Arizona that is a minoritymajority district with over 60% Latino students, has been under a desegregation order since 1978. This was the result of two lawsuits filed in 1974, almost four decades ago, and the saga continues today. It may have to do with the power of the guilty party having to fix the problem they perpetuate.
The Fisher Plaintiffs, the Mendoza Plaintiffs, the United States (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”), and the Tucson Unified School District No. 1 (“TUSD,” or the “District”) (collectively, “the Parties”) enter into this Consent Order (“Order”) to resolve the longstanding desegregation case against the District. This Order consists of the Unitary Status Plan jointly proposed by the Parties, reached after months of negotiations.

In this federal desegregation, Judge David Bury has

allowed the guilty defendant to be one of the parties that is allowed write their own punishment. Even worse, all they need is one of the parties to go along with them and they can veto the other remaining parties. This fact will become very important especially when you consider the unequal distribution of power in these negotiations. As of Day 40 for this school year, the demographics of TUSD, which has 51,550 students are 23.2% White (11,971), 5.5% Black (2,832), and 62.4% Hispanic (32,181). The leaders of TUSD do not represent the demographics of the student population. This has to do with all voters within TUSD, whether or not they have students in the school district, being able to vote for the school board, and thus indirectly choose the type of superintendent, who then chooses his or her administration to lead the district. The white voters get a disproportionate amount of power through the vote over an educational system that Latinos remain in while their students increasingly favor charter schools. And to solidify that power over the 62.4%, deals can be made to get the other plaintiff to side with them on issues they may not have care about as much as the Latino plaintiffs. For example, while some problems affect all minorities and thus there may be unity there, other issues, such as bilingual education, may be an issue that has only one advocate in this local threesome which includes the guilty defendant. Historic Timeline Starting the Plan In May 1974, the NAACP sued TUSD on behalf of the African American students are their party is known as the “Fisher Plaintiffs.”

4 Later that year in October, MALDEF filed a laterconsolidated lawsuit containing similar allegations on behalf of Latino students and this party is known as the “Mendoza Plantiffs.” In 1976 the United States intervened and the case was tried in federal court in January 1977. Finally, in August 1978 a settlement was reached and a comprehensive desegregation plan was put forward which is an official Court Order dated August 31, 1978. Getting off the Plan (temporarily) On January, 2005, TUSD tried to get off of the desegregation order and enter what is known as Unitary Status. In April 2008, the federal court ended its oversight of TUSD by accepting a “Post-Unitary Status Plan.” On December 18, 2009, the court approved the PUSP which was approved by the TUSD board by a 4-1 vote. The dissenting vote came from Mark Stegeman who was opposed to the clear support and “expansion” of Mexican American Studies as laid out in the PUSP. From what I understand, the federal courts did not so much lift the oversight over TUSD because they fixed the problems, but because this order was about three decades old and still on the court’s desk, and thus the judge wanted TUSD to fix the problem via the PUSP and move on. Unfortunately, what the federal judge in Tucson did not understand was just how bad the racism and segregation in Tucson are, and that the District for the most part was just ignoring the Court Order and yet it got to spend the $63 million it received every year in deseg monies. TUSD was like a parent that for every dollar it received in child support, only spent a penny on the child and the rest on itself. The budget for MAS was less than $600,000, which is less than 1% of deseg funds. MAS was free for TUSD, completely paid for with less

than 1% of the money the District was getting to fix its segregation problem. Instead, TUSD would do other things with the money, such as pay for a new milliondollar football field for Tucson HS, pay for $625,000 in cameras to be installed on buses to help with suspending Latino children, and all that security you have at TUSD school board meetings, including the new bullet-proof counter that can be used as a shield against protestors outside or in the board room. Ninth Circuit overrules Tucson’s Judge Bury Needless to say, the Plaintiffs appealed the lifting of federal oversight on TUSD and on July 19, 2011 (yes, just last summer), under Superintendent John Pedicone’s and TUSD governing board President Mark Stegeman’s watch, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court overruled the conservative federal judge in Tucson and slapped Tucson back under a desegregation order. Special Master appointed On September 14, 2011, the court ordered the appointment of a Special Master to develop the Unitary Status Plan (USP) for TUSD. From what I understand, the Special Master acts with the power of just-below a federal judge. While the power is ultimately with the judge (Bury in this case), the Special Master is who Bury trusts to take care of things so that he can sign off on them. The Special Master also has special power with the District, able to demand data and ask questions of anyone, from administration to the school board, and get those questions answered as soon as possible. This would be important for a study that would be conducted by the University of Arizona’s College of Education, where Pedicone was a professor before taking over TUSD. This study would use data that the Special Master was able to ask for and get from TUSD that would

6 be important in a study that concluded that MAS was indeed successful. The Cabrera study was made public November 2012 and was yet another vindication of the most successful program to close the achievement gap for Latino students in the nation. On January 6th, 2012, Special Master Willis Hawley was appointed. Until the new USP is written and approved, the PUSP remains in effect. This did not prevent TUSD from continuing in their ignoring of federal court orders when they killed the MAS program on January 10th, 2012. Unfortunately Hawley was just barely appointed on the winter holiday of the Epiphany, winter break still in effect across the country, and during his first winter weekend could not prevent what Michael Hicks would propose and TUSD would approve the following Tuesday. It was just too soon. USP Draft released This brings us to November 2012. Just three days after Election Day where a new “pro-MAS” majority was elected to the TUSD school board, the Special Master’s Unitary Status Plan was made public. It is important to note that this is a Unitary Status Plan and NOT a POST-Unitary Status Plan. In other words, this is the plan to get TUSD into Unitary Status and it keeps TUSD under federal court oversight, but this time with an official person in charge of that supervision, namely the Special Master. In about 4-5 years, the plan will be revisited and rewritten either to further fix what problems TUSD perpetuates, or to move on to a PUSP with the federal court supervision lifted. As an analogy, TUSD is on “probation” for the next 5 years, but as one of the Parties it gets to write the terms of probation on itself, the guilty defendant.

Unitary Status Plan in effect At the current point, the USP is just a draft. We are now in a public input period until the end of November (the 28th at 11:59pm). The Parties will get to add their own comments, as will the Attorney General Tom Horne who will undoubtedly object to any “culturally relevant” class which may be the return of MAS. Ironically, just this semester TUSD began teaching a course on the Bible which is a clear violation of Tom Horne’s HB2281 which was used to ban MAS, further demonstrating the clear racial profiling taking place in Arizona against Latinos. Furthermore, European History continues to satisfy American History graduation requirements, but that has nothing to do with White Privilege or “culturally relevant” since Western Civilization is the default paradigm for those in charge who fail to see the inconsistency in treatment for different groups of people. On December 14th the Special Master will resubmit the final version of the USP, with one week to spare before the symbolic Winter Solstice of 2012, 520 years after 1492 in the “520” area code, and hopefully a new chapter of Tucson history will begin in 2013 without our authors and history being banned but helping in the writing of our own future.


MAS and Bilingual Education
It may be no surprise to many of you that Arizona is a special state in the USA right now where many right-wing policies are being tested from known hate groups such as FAIR and through corporate influence through groups such as ALEC. Or as Jon Stewart referred to our state; the “meth lab of democracy.” The year 2010 brought about huge changes to the state after the veto power of our Democratic governor was taken away as Janet Napolitano joined the Obama administration to deport more Mexicans than ever before as head of Homeland Security. This allowed Jan Brewer to rise from her crypt and rubber-stamp Russell Pearce’s and win her own election as governor in 2010. There were two big bills that made this possible. • SB1070, the infamous “papers please” law which legalizes racial profiling of any “reasonably suspicious” brown person which was meant to get rid of the physical. • HB2281, the Ethnic Studies ban that was written for the sole purpose (which is unconstitutional) of getting rid of Mexican American Studies in TUSD. The bill has been used once and only once, but it was the focal point of both campaigns for Attorney

General and State Superintendent in Arizona. The year of 2011 was spent trying to fight the new law, and 2012 started off with the official ban of Mexican American Studies by the TUSD school board. However, they took it further than necessary, according to Attorney General Tom Horne, and started banning books from Latino and Native American authors and required one teacher to take down a poster of the Aztec calendar in her classroom. 520 years, the first decade of 52-year cycle, after 1492, the Calendario was banned in the “520.” Cultural genocide was still alive and well in Tucson. This was part of a movement that began earlier, or perhaps we should note that it is part or a more recent wave (since racism and xenophobia have always existed in this country) of anti-Mexican legislation. In 1998, California passed Prop 227, the “English in Public Schools” initiative which was sponsored by Republican Ron Unz who failed in his bid for governor. This was in an era of other anti-Mexican bills in California, including the infamous Prop 187 from 1994 and Prop 209 from 1996. After implementation of these bills loopholes may have been found in clever ways that worked against the sponsor’s real goal of attacking Mexicans, so people like Ron Unz would try it again, with all the loopholes fixed, next-door in the state of Arizona. It is in Arizona that the original anti-Mexican waves of the Pete Wilson era met with the South and the Tanton Network to form a whole new legal form of racism. It began with in 2000 with the Unz initiative known as Prop 203, which banned bilingual education in Arizona. The initiative from the liberal Democratic State of California got a big boost from the liberal Democratic

10 State of New York in a misleading front-page story that said Prop 227 had been a success, whereas now we know from studies a decade later that it was a huge mistake. It was during the late 1990s that another unknown figure would begin to arise, a man named John Pedicone who was just appointed as superintendent of Flowing Wells School District in Tucson… and he would only too gladly implement the new Unz initiative as an opponent of all the multiculturalism nonsense that he would tell his Education grad students at the University of Arizona to get out of their minds. The return of MAS? Is it possible for the Mexican American Studies program, just banned earlier this year in January of 2012, to begin instruction again for the Fall 2013 semester? The answer is a resounding YES! However, there is a lot that needs to occur before then, but there is a clear path with federal protection against state intervention that leads to a return of MAS classrooms, perhaps under a different name. First we begin with the classes which are laid out Section V.C.6.a.ii of the Unitary Status Plan DRAFT (draft is the key word here):
By the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the District shall develop and implement culturally relevant courses of instruction designed to reflect the history, experiences, and culture of African American and Latino communities. Core courses of instruction shall be developed in social studies and literature and shall be offered at all feasible grade levels in all high schools across the District, subject to the District's minimum enrollment guidelines. All courses shall be developed using the District's curricular review process and shall meet District and state standards for academic rigor. The core curriculum described in this section shall be offered commencing in the fall term of the 2013-2014 school year. The District shall pilot the

expansion of such core or elective courses to sixth through eighth graders in the 2014-2015 school year, and shall explore similar expansions throughout the K-12 curriculum in the 2015-2016 school year.

The new educational buzzword appears to be “culturally relevant” but if you read the description it is clear that what is being referred to here are MAS-like courses even though that word is not used, especially if you know the history of attempts to attack MAS from within TUSD during the year of 2011 with the so-called “Stegeman resolution.” Before being banned by the TUSD board, MAS classes had two descriptors that are important to understand before continuing: 1) “Core” which refers to the classes satisfying graduation requirements in that field, such as social studies or literature. 2) “Elective” refers to the classes not being required or mandatory by the student, but just one option that students can elect to take, just as they can currently take European History to satisfy American History credit. One controversy has already arisen over the word “elective” in that it can also refers to what is commonly called “elective” classes, which include courses such as Band, Theater, Art, etc. The use of the word “elective” in the Post Unitary-Status Plan and here refers to the classes not being mandatory by any student, but an available option. The available option is clear as you can see with the declaration that these core classes be offered at ALL high schools starting during the Fall of 2013, and then to be expanding to middle school in the following year, and then expansions throughout all the K-12 curriculum in the following year. This also expands the requirement for not just

12 “culturally relevant” courses for Latinos, but for learning about the African American community as well. It is in this little paragraph out of many pages that the only reference to what could be a return of MAS classes is made. If the community demands it and the Special Master agrees, the call for the MAS program as existed before with that name can be made, but I have a feeling Dr. Hawley will stick to this more vague description since it allows for flexibility by the district and the coordinator. Another very important note at this point is that the TUSD Plaintiffs, the guilty defendants, are officially objecting to this section. This means that the Deconcini Law Firm, with the approval of the current TUSD school board, is working against any return or creation of culturally relevant core classes for African American and Latino communities. The return of the MAS director wrongfully fired in 2012? Skipping the long history of the MAS struggle, and the night of April 10th, 2012, where hundreds of people gathered at the TUSD headquarters, the first meeting after the famous Michael “Rosa Clark” Hicks interview on the Daily Show where the aptly named Hicks blamed the success of the students in the MAS program to magical burritos. The big topic of the evening was the firing of the MAS director Sean Arce, who has stood up for the teachers, the students, and the classes until the very end against John Pedicone. Despite all the evidence of success, all the awards and audits that vindicated the program, Sean Arce was becoming a Thorn of Truth on the side of John Pedicone’s trajectory for the mostly-Latino school district. Arce already knew about Pedicone’s educational

philosophy by taking a class of his at the University of Arizona where Pedicone told his students to get over the multicultural paradigm; students must assimilate in a way that would make Ron Unz proud. Is it possible for Sean Arce to return to TUSD in a role that he is specially qualified for? The answer to this question is also a resounded YES! Just a few lines before the excerpt mentioned in the previous section regarding “culturally relevant” courses we have the following Personnel description under Section V.C.4.c:
Coordinator of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction ("CRPI Coordinator"). The District shall hire or designate an individual who shall supervise the implementation of courses of instruction that focus on the cultural and historical experiences and perspectives of African American and Latino communities. The CRPI coordinator shall also supervise, develop and implement a professional development plan for administrators, certificated staff, and paraprofessionals, as appropriate, on how best to deliver these courses of instruction and to engage African American and Latino students. The CRPI coordinator shall have experience developing and teaching curriculum focused on the African American and/or Latino social, cultural, and historical experience at the secondary level.

Anyone who has been following the MAS story over the past few months and years can see right away what the Special Master is referring too. The former MAS director job description is basically what is now the new CRPI Coordinator, with the expanded role of not just having MAS classes, but classes for African American experience also. A little below the above description under Section V.C. 5.a:
By July 1, 2013, the CRPI coordinator shall coordinate hiring or designating individuals, as necessary, who can assist him/her in providing ongoing support and training to administrators, certificated

staff, and paraprofessionals.

With these two excerpts, the only excerpts in the USP that refer to the CRPI Coordinator, it could not be any more clear that this job is made for Sean Arce and the return of the MAS teachers. It is also clear that due to the vagueness of the language used to describe “culturally relevant” that it will be up to the Coordinator to determine the trajectory of what TUSD determines is the rightful implementation of this section. There is only one group of teachers that is “shovel ready” with the curriculum already created to have classes going at all high schools by Fall 2013, and that is the former MAS teachers. If this is the path that TUSD and the Person-Who-Hires (Pedicone) want to take, then Sean Arce will be hired, and MAS classes, though not with that name, can return in 2013 and be expanded to all K-12 levels, and new classes for African American Studies can be created, although not with that name either. This is as close to a return of MAS and righting all the racist wrongs of 2012 that the Special Master can provide. The other path is for the Person-Who-Hires to continue ignoring the Latino community as John Pedicone did in Spring of 2011 with his decision to place Dr. Lupita Garcia in charge of supervising MAS. Garcia was a known opponent of MAS and publicly announced that racism based on skin color no longer exists. And yet this is who Pedicone believes is the best person to help run a program created by and protected by a federal desegregation order? Pedicone’s appointment of Garcia was like Bush’s appointment of John Bolton, a known critic of the United Nations, as the US ambassador to the UN. It is no surprise that a few months later Sean Arce would fired

after the MAS program was killed under Pedicone and Garcia’s watch. Since it is these types of people that John Pedicone hires, all eyes will be on who is appointed as CRPI Coordinator now that a new pro-MAS majority board will be in charge when this hiring takes place. Since the school board is the boss over the superintendent, they can wield their power over the former SALC VicePresident, effectively reversing and righting the wrongs of 2012 so that the community can begin the healing process. Or John Pedicone, with powerful connections in SALC, can wield his influence over measly unpaid school board members who will need that monied-network after using TUSD as a springboard to higher elected offices, such as was the case with current US Congressman Raul Grijalva who began his political career on the TUSD school board for three terms, the same amount of terms his daughter on the school board has served and who may seek higher office in 2014 after her third term is complete. Only time will tell which direction the new TUSD board takes, but the nation is watching and something that resembles the MAS program with a director and teachers can be revived, or it can be compromised away just as it has in the past, which is one reason TUSD is under a federal desegregation order to begin with. TUSD leadership has a racism problem. Bilingual Education This brings us to what may be an even more controversial section of the Unitary Status Plan, and to understand it fully requires some knowledge of the Parties involved which we mentioned at the beginning of this

16 article. First, let us get right to the point. The USP does not revive Bilingual Education even though it appeared to have the strong support of some of the parties involved, including perhaps the Special Master himself. So who killed the return of Bilingual Education? Recall that while the Special Master is ultimately in charge of writing the USP, he decided at the very beginning, wisely, to have the Parties input at least in the Draft of this desegregation plan. Also recall, very importantly, that the guilty defendant, TUSD, the party perpetuating the racism and segregation, is one of the equal parties in the negotiations, as are the Fisher Plaintiffs that represent about 5% of the TUSD student population compared to the Mendoza Plaintiffs that represent over 60% of the students in TUSD. All three Parties get the same power in the input. For an item to have made it into the Draft USP, it required three of the four parties to go along with it (DOJ being the fourth) or to put it another way that will help elucidate what may have happened, all that was required is for two parties to object to an item to keep it out of the Draft Plan. This should emphasize the huge importance of the community public input period taking place this week, since that is when the Special Master writes HIS plan which may include items that two parties do not agree to. Now this is where the logic and reasoning must begin due to a gag order being placed on the Plaintiffs, which the Mendoza representative strictly abides by despite TUSD board members illegal leaking of classified data to right-wing sources. But this is Tucson after all, and the leaders have never obeyed the federal court orders up to now, so why would they start listening to Judge Bury when there is no consequences for their illegal activities.

(On a side note, on November 20th, TUSD held an illegal meeting that was in violation of the Open Meetings law and voted to close down several schools, and this November 27th, during one of the public USP forums, TUSD is having another meeting to close even more schools, but also demonstrating what they think of the Special Master forums, which they did not even schedule in the TUSD school district but in Sunnyside!) Now to lay out my reasoning, which I must admit might be completely wrong, but due to the gag order it is all we have to know what happened, and I’m pretty confident I’m close to right on this. Before the gag order, I met with Mendoza party and the Special Master, and Hawley let me know about the desegregation case in San Francisco where Bilingual Education was allowed to return despite the state law, because federal court orders trump racist state laws (this last part is my wording, but the feds do trump the state.) From my meetings with them, and from others who met with them, I was willing to bet, and I wrote about it multiple times on, that Bilingual Education would be revived in TUSD. But it was not. Which implies that despite strong support before the gag order, during the negotiations at least two parties objected to the return of Bilingual Education. One of the parties is obvious, which makes you wonder why the guilty defendant has a say in all of this to begin with. According to former teachers at Flowing Wells, including one that will soon be on the TUSD school board, the superintendent at the turn of the century was only too happy to enforce the ban on bilingual education at Flowing Wells. For his work in

18 upholding state law, however racist, with zeal, John Pedicone was awarded Superintendent of the Year in Arizona, which should have been a warning, not a recommendation. The same person would also work with full fervor in killing MAS and once again taking it a step further than the racist state law required by also banning books and having censorship monitors harass the students and teachers for the rest of the semester. And considering that the current majority of the board is the same that killed MAS in January, and that is objecting to the “culturally relevant” core classes in the USP, it should not be hard to conclude that TUSD is one of the parties opposed to the return of Bilingual Education. The other party opposed is where this reasoning may get controversial, but I will stay truthful to what I know, but once again stress that NO ONE but the parties involved knows what really happened, and I’m not on the receiving end of what one of the TUSD board members is leaking despite a gag order. It is important to note that while the NAACP was who filed the original Fisher lawsuit in 1974, the current Fisher representative is not an MLK or MLK-like in anyway. Without going into all the details, suffice it to say that the Fisher representative enjoys a cozy friendship with some anti-MAS forces, and while she was on the school board she made her anti-Latino stance well known. How she became the current Fisher representative is beyond me, but also suffice it to say that Pedicone is a master of pitting Black against Brown. While the “culturally relevant” courses call for both African American and Latino classes to be taught, on the surface it seems that there is no reason for the Fisher representative to advocate for Bilingual education, and based on experiences before the gag order, it would not be folly to conclude that the Fisher party was also

opposed to the return of Bilingual Education. Thus, 5 people on the school board, or rather a majority of those five people, along with a representative of 5% of the student population got to overrule a party that represented over 60% of the student population and what I believe the Special Master wanted also. But this is just for the Draft. It would be very unfortunate for the Fisher representative, who does not meet regularly with her community and there is no evidence she even meets with the Fishers themselves, to ignore the fact that about one in ten of the African American students need Bilingual Education. This would require an acknowledgement that African refugees and immigrants are also considered as African Americans, and thus their needs should also be considered, but in the end the data shows that Bilingual Education is what works. Worse of all is that under the current system which was put into place by Tom Horne, the ELL classes FORCIBLY segregate students for 4 hours a day, and TUSD uses desegregation funds to pay for this forced segregation! This is why it was so ironic to hear Tom Horne’s continued lies about how MAS segregates students, which it does not do since students themselves elect to take them, when it is his own ELL program that is segregating Latinos on a massive scale! This is why the public input period is so important. The Special Master needs to hear and see the 60% of the student population that the Mendoza Party represents, and he needs to hear from the community itself why Bilingual Education and MAS should be returned to TUSD. In the end, the final USP will be what he decides, and community input, which has not taken place so far, may be the deciding factor to bring to TUSD what the

20 guilty defendant and other parties could not. One thing is for sure and that is that TUSD is entering a new era. There is a lot that this article is not covering that is mentioned in the Unitary Status Plan that are positive changes that are coming. My focus here was just on the ones that need immediate attention. The other big change that is coming is that the Special Master will remain to ensure the implementation of the USP, which is in contrast to the original deseg order that went ignored for three decades. The desegregation money must also now be accounted for, and it is no coincidence that Pedicone’s false fiscal emergency coincides with the accountability in deseg monies that can no longer be raided. In conclusion, the new Unitary Status Plan, the continued oversight by the Special Master, and a new majority on the school board promise to bring huge changes to the future of TUSD. Then again, never underestimate the power of SALC, John Pedicone, and the Dennis Deconcini lawfirm, all Democratic-related entities which have huge influence over the Democratic majority on the TUSD school board. Remember it was in a Democratic-run county and city and school board that this whole desmadre took place, and continues to take place.