TUSD has new plan for racial balance; New research on MAS - Tucson News Now

TUSD has new plan for racial balance; There's new research on Ethnic Studies

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It's a battle that's been going on in the Tucson Unified School District for decades.

There is now a new Unitary Status Plan that could finally bring TUSD out from under a federal desegregation order.

Two families, one Mexican-American and the other African-American, filed lawsuits more than 30 years ago against the district.

A federal judge ruled there were "vestiges" of segregation in the district and the desegregation order was given.

The proposed Unitary Status Plan is the second in the last few years.

TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone says the old plan did not look at outcomes or results.

Pedicone says he likes the elements of the new plan that address those concerns.

"It says that there are requirements, there are metrics, there's analysis--deep analysis--that needs to take place to assess whether or not students that are represented by the plaintiffs groups are being treated fairly and that we're moving in the direction that we should be in terms of achievement and outcomes," Pedicone says.

Some believe the new plan also contains the elements necessary to reinstate TUSD's controversial Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in some form.

It would not necessarily be called MAS, but the classes could be similar.

TUSD eliminated MAS in January because the program violated a new state law that was specifically designed to target MAS.

A new study backs up claims that students who took MAS classes did significantly better in school.

The federal district court overseeing desegregation in the district requested the study.

Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Education conducted it.

They found MAS courses substantially raised student achievement.

"I found that, from 2008 to 2011, that there was a significant impact of taking Mexican American Studies courses on student achievement--student achievement being specifically passing the AIMS after initial failure, and graduating from high school," says one of the researchers, UA College of Education Professor Dr. Nolan Cabrera.

Pedicone says the study confirms what TUSD knows from its own research.

He says, if a student is interested and engaged and has teachers who care, the student will do well, no matter what the program is.

To read the UA study, click here.

TUSD will submit the proposed Unitary Status Plan to a federal judge in December.

The district will live under the plan for several years, then it will be up to the judge to decide whether TUSD has achieved Unitary Status and can be free of the desegregation order. 

The public has an opportunity to comment and to learn more about the proposed Unitary Status Plan.

Public forums will be held this month in Tucson.

To learn more about how to comment and about the forums, click here.

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