Cautious optimism about the TUSD vote for the Unitary Plan

by David Safier

The TUSD Board approved the new Unitary (desgregation) Plan last night. The final vote was unanimous, but only after a preliminary vote over whether the new "culturally relevant courses" should be core courses or elective courses. Stegeman and Hicks wanted to get rid of the "core courses" stipulation, but the three others voted to keep them, including — and this may be important in about a week — outgoing Board members Cuevas and Sugiyama. Their votes may signal what the two of them will do on school closures issue.They may decide to give some room for the incoming Board members, Juarez and Foster, to participate in the final decision. I hope they'll avoid lame duck decisions on closures that would have such a far reaching impact on the District, but that's up to them. We'll know more soon.

Meanwhile, the question is, what will the the "culturally relevant" courses look like? There's a lot of room for interpretation in the relevant paragraph in the Unitary Plan, which you can read below the fold. MAS supporters like me want to see something very similar to the program Horne and Huppenthal fought against and the Board dismantled, but there are plenty of people who want a less controversial approach to the curriculum. Those decisions will be made by a new Board with more pro-MAS members than the current lineup, so the balance will have shifted considerably. And it's my understanding that the federally mandated Unitary Plan trumps state legislation designed to call any MAS-like program illegal, though I expect the Republicans to chime in with their usual outrage.

There are other important decisions in the Unitary Plan that can affect ELL classes, dual language classes, etc. David Morales has posted the entire document on Three Sonorans. The paragraph related to the "culturally relevant" core courses is below the fold.

 

“By the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the District shall develop and implement culturally relevant courses of instruction designed to reflect the history, experiences, and culture of African American and Mexican American communities. Such courses of instruction for core English and Social Studies credit shall be developed and offered at all feasible grade levels in all high schools across the District, subject to the District’s minimum enrollment guidelines. All courses shall be developed using the District’s curricular review process and shall meet District and state standards for academic rigor. The core curriculum described in this section shall be offered commencing in the fall term of the 2013-2014 school year. The District shall pilot the expansion of courses designed to reflect the history, experiences, and culture of African American and Mexican American communities to sixth through eighth graders in the 2014-2015 school year, and shall explore similar expansions throughout the K-12 curriculum in the 2015-2016 school year.”

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