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Tucson Unified School District has a tight deadline to develop ethnic studies curriculum

The Tucson Unified School District is preparing to offer "culturally relevant courses" as required under a federal desegregation order, but ethnic studies supporters do not believe the district can get state approval to meet this fall’s deadline. TUSD has been ordered by the federal government to develop coursework that offers perspectives from the viewpoint of racial minorities. That is after the state ordered the district to abolish its Mexican-American studies program last year. Now TUSD is scrambling to come up with ethnic studies courses before school starts in August. 

Richard Martinez is a Tucson civil rights attorney who has been pushing TUSD to reinstate Mexican-American studies. He anticipates the state education department will not give the program final approval, and he said that is unfortunate for Hispanic students.

“We have a public education system that is essentially in total denial about the value of Latinos in education, the role of their history, the role of their culture, the role of their authors and artists. It’s an incredibly dark period of time for Latinos," Martinez said.

TUSD officials said they are working to develop courses that emphasize Latino and African-American perspectives, but, the district said the courses will only be offered at three Tucson schools.