Last week the federal trial for the MAS/HB2281 case began. The trial resumes for an entire and final week on July 17th.
At issue is not whether HB2281 is constitutional – only 1 of the 4 provisions was found unconstitutional and 2 of those 3 were used against MAS – but whether “racial animus” was involved in the decision-making process of John Huppenthal and Tom Horne, both of the state superintendents who issued the ban on TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Department.
After John Huppenthal’s testimony last week we learned that:
- As a state senator, he amended the bill so that it would not take effect until the first day of 2011. He was already running for state superintendent in 2010 and thus he wanted to be the person who banned MAS. He admitted as much in the trial last week when he said that he was actually helping the MAS program! How? Because he KNEW that Tom Horne would have banned MAS immediately in the Fall of 2010 and thus he gave MAS extra time. Wow, what a generous guy, to delay the racism until his tenure!
- On December 30th, 2010, Tom Horne found TUSD in violation of HB2281 two days before the law took effect.
- On January 3rd, 2011 which was a Monday morning, Tom Horne had a press conference at 10am to proclaim that MAS must be banned. Clearly, the former attorney should know about ex post facto laws. Consider the following: The law was now in effect but it was New Year’s weekend! There were no classes in effect! So how could TUSD be in violation of teaching things that were banned under HB2281 if no classes had even been taught since the law came into effect? At noon, the former attorney who was banned from SEC cases and who clearly doesn’t know what the US Constitution itself says about ex post facto laws became the Attorney General of Arizona.
- This right here, combined with the 4 years of Tom Horne’s history with trying to ban Ethnic Studies in TUSD, clearly shows the racial animus of Horne; he was going to ban the program no matter what!
- John Huppenthal began his term in office with the MAS ban, and his last act in office was to find the new Culturally Relevant Classes (aka “MAS-lite”) in TUSD in non-compliance, mainly because a TUSD administrator (Auggie Romero) was boasting at a national conference that “CRC is MAS” under a different name. MAS was clearly his defining political force while in office. He did, after all, run a campaign ad saying that he will “Stop La Raza.”
- And of course, there are all the blog comments that John Huppenthal eventually admitted too, then apologized for. Last week he was asked about these racially charged comments and then boldly proclaimed that he’s rescinding his apology just like Auggie Romero was rescinding his resignation as Pueblo HS principal this last semester.
While Huppenthal was in office he was posting the following:
- “Yes, MAS = KKK in a different color”
- “No books whatsoever were banned. MAS skinheads can’t run classrooms”
- “The books aren’t the problem, the infected teachers are the problem”
- “MAS classes use the same technique Hitler used in rise to power. In Hitler’s case it was Sudetenldand, in MAS it was Aztlan”
- “They’re having an orgasm that their book was banned – now maybe a student will read it.”
Yeah, there’s no racial animus here folks?!?
At least Huppenthal admits that books were banned in TUSD, since many conservatives to this day refuse to admit how bad things got against Latinos in TUSD, which continues to be under a federal desegregation order since 1974.
What can WE do now?
There are many groups of people out there showing there support for MAS, from Librotraficantes nationwide to UNIDOS locally. This provides good moral support for all of the teachers and students that have been under attack since Tom Horne began his assault in 2006.
However, to be honest, this will do little to sway Federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima who is actually a Ninth Circuit judge on loan to help with Tucson’s overload of cases thanks to Operation Streamline.
What was most disturbing of all the news that came out last week was that the head of TUSD’s media communications, Stefanie Boe, told Arizona’s largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, that no matter what happens in court, MAS is not returning to TUSD!
Federal cases take months to decide, but a ruling should be released by next summer, if not before.
MAS will once again be an election year issue as it was in 2012 when Kickback Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez ran as “pro-MAS” candidates.
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After being elected they did nothing to help bring back the program, not even helping the MAS trial unlike the many amicus briefs MAS has received from around the nation.
Either way, next year is an election year and there will be two seats open. If this case is decided later this year or early next year, MAS could actually return to TUSD as soon as Fall 2018!
But this will require three board members to make this happen.
There is a board meeting Tuesday, on lucky 7/11 2017. UNIDOS and all other groups invested in a return of MAS should show up and demand an explanation from TUSD as to why they will keep MAS banned.
Even if TUSD doubles-down, next year is an election year and board majorities can easily change. We already know that Michael Hicks will not seek re-election.
We need to get a firm commitment from “pro-MAS” board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster that they will bring back the program as soon as possible if MAS wins its case. Our prediction is the best we will get is “I supported MAS, but…”
That brings us to Mark Stegeman, Michael Hicks, and Rachael Sedgwick. Of these three, one is leaving next year, so now is the time to start planning for Hicks’ replacement on the board. While Stegeman and Hicks have a history with MAS and voting against it, Sedgwick is brand new to the board and it is anyone’s guess how she would vote.
The federal court case is beyond any of our controls. Even is MAS loses, there is always the Ninth Circuit which tends to rule against all of Arizona’s laws of this nature, such as SB1070.
What is in our control is local control of our school board. The district is 63% Latino, but the voters who vote are mostly White and why would many of them care about TUSD if many of them are sending their kids to charter schools, or don’t have any school-age kids in their household anymore? The patterns of white flight in TUSD have been clearly shown in past articles on Three Sonorans; TUSD has gone from over 62,000 students to under 58,000 students ever since Adelita Grijalva took office, and the vast majority of the over 1,000 students that have left each year have been White students which we documented before the TUSDStats was recently taken down.
This is not the glorious part of social justice, but it is the most important part. We need to show up and speak at every school board meeting, just as we used to back in 2011. We need to prepare candidates for the school board openings next year and we need to help them win their elections.
Otherwise, this whole court case will have been in vain and what John Huppenthal and Stefanie Boe said will become a reality; that MAS will never return to TUSD.
Also published on Medium.