by David Safier
Last week, TUSD school board president Mark Stegeman wrote an op ed in the Star recommending the Mexican American Studies courses be removed from the core curriculum and be turned into electives.
Now, I hear Superintendent John Pedicone is also pushing to change the program into a series of elective courses, and he's pretty sure he has the three votes on the Board to make it happen. In public, Pedicone is maintaining a neutral position on the core/elective issue, but statements he has made in less public circumstances make it sound like the fix is in.
Turning the Mexican American Studies courses into electives is a bad idea which will most likely gut the program or end it entirely. More on that in a later post. But right now, I have to ask, why?
Changing the MAS courses into electives sounds like out-and-out capitulation or, to use a less loaded term, politically motivated compromise. If TUSD dials back the MAS program a notch, the calculation may be, then Huppenthal will call off the dogs and not end the program entirely. That may make be the political calculation, but it defies logic.
Imagine all the MAS courses were turned into electives but the classes remained essentially the same. That would have nothing to do with their compliance with A.R.S. § 15-112. Either the classes promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote racial resentment, etc., or they don't. Their standing as core or elective courses is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.
Have Pedicone and Huppenthal already cut a deal? If so, someone should blow the whistle, because it exposes the law and the pressure on TUSD for the purely political maneuvers they are.
If Huppenthal has offered Pedicone a deal, Pedicone is the one who should be blowing the whistle to expose Huppenthal's blatant hypocrisy.
And if there's no deal -- if Pedicone and the three members of the board think throwing a bone to Huppenthal will make him back off -- they have not learned the lessons of recent Arizona political history.