by David Safier
When Superintendent Huppenthal went on Robin Hiller's "The State of Education" radio show Saturday, he said about TUSD's new Culturally Relevant Curriculum (CRC), "It's as though they were aching for another confrontation." Today on the Bill Buckmaster radio show, Hupp removed any doubt as to what he meant. Either TUSD toes the line, or Hupp plans to crush the district, Tony Soprano style. Except Hupp, unlike Tony, doesn't have to rough anyone up. He has the power of the specially designed law, HB 2881, to bring TUSD into line.
"Our biggest concern is just simply the health of the Tucson Unified School District," Huppenthal said. "We're going down a path that hasn't been healthy for TUSD." [Later] "Tucson can't afford this kind of behavior, this kind of malfeasance. It needs to get its act together."
What path is TUSD going down that's hazardous to its health? It refuses to bow to Huppenthal's demands to water down its new Culturally Relevant Curriculum, which, to Hupp's way of thinking, is too close to what was taught in the dismantled Mexican American Studies program.
What happens if TUSD doesn't submit to Huppenthal's will?
"The idea that we're now going to be in a position where we come in, we hold them in violation of state law, we withhold funds, we go back to court, that is a disaster for TUSD. That means they go on down the path of losing their brand name, becoming a dysfunctional, malfunctioning school district, parents losing confidence, withdrawing their students . . . The school board needs to get its act together, the people developing the curriculum within TUSD need to get their act together and get on a positive path."
What, according to Huppenthal, is going to bring the district to its knees, cause it to lose its brand and its customers? (Didn't I hear a similar threat made to a restaurant owner in a Sopranos episode?) Not the courses themselves, but what Hupp will do to the district if it refuses to change the CRC until it meets his approval.
But even if TUSD somehow manages to rewrite the curriculum to Hupp's satisfaction, that doesn't mean he'll be satisfied. He has to be sure the teachers in every CRC classroom watch what they say and do.
"They can have a fine curriculum, but they can still be in violation of the law because of the nature of what's going on in the classroom."
TUSD is on notice. Hupp couldn't be any clearer. The district is in for another battle with the Arizona DOE where the district, administrators and teachers will be in jeopardy. The district's cast of characters has changed since the MAS battles, with a more progressive board and a new superintendent. The federal court's deseg order puts another powerful player in the game. But it's the same old Hupp, and it's going to get nasty, no question.