Integration puts some TUSD magnet programs at risk - Tucson News Now

Integration puts some TUSD magnet programs at risk

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Some have too many students of the same race, which makes getting out of a federal desegregation order difficult

A student fell to tears and parents pushed for alternatives in the Tucson High Magnet School cafeteria Tuesday night as they learned the math classes could lose magnet funding.

"It's some of our lives," THMS junior Christian Lerma said as he broke down during the audience question period of the night.

"How can actually assess whether or not the magnet program is affecting integration positively?" THMS parent Maria Russakoff asked.

"You shouldn't have two high school magnets with the same or similar theme, competing for the same students," Tucson Unified School District director of desegregation Sam Brown told the audience.

Palo Verde High has science and technology courses similar to Tucson High.  But Brown said that THMS will remain an arts and science magnet.  The math program could lose its magnet funding because of federal requirements that no federally-funded magnet programs have more than 70% students of one race.  TUSD said that more than 70% of the students enrolled in magnet math but not magnet science are Hispanic.  The district is considering changes to satisfy federal desegregation requirements and follow a unitary status plan that aims to ensure that students of all backgrounds have the same opportunities for achievement.  But parents said that ending magnet math at a school with magnet science makes no sense.

"I feel terribly let down and misled if an aspect of that which I was counting on was suddenly being taken away," Russakoff said.

"It could mean scaling back some of the teachers, it could mean folding the teachers into the science magnet, so that the math curriculum is aligned with the science.  It could mean moving them to another purpose or objective not tied to the magnets," Brown said.

The parents gave comments and suggestions to consider next month along with those made at meeting at other magnet schools.  A federal judge must still approve of what the board decides.



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