Mexican American Studies may soon return to Tucson, Arizona.

The city’s school board voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday to lift its objection to including “culturally relevant coursework” as part of the core curriculum in the desegregation plan for the city’s schools, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

The vote augurs well for the controversial course of Mexican American studies that was suspended by the school board last year after the Arizona state legislature declared the classes illegal and threatened to withhold $14 million from the school district if they weren’t discontinued.

The board had voted unanimously in December to approve a desegregation plan that recommended teaching culturally relevant courses in the state’s schools. But the plan also contained an objection to offering the courses for core credit that had been approved by the board in an earlier vote. Tuesday’s vote lifts the objection.

The Arizona legislature passed a law in 2010 targeted at Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program that criminalized courses that teach ethnic solidarity rather than individuality. Conservative Arizona politicians, led by then-State Sen. John Huppenthal (now State Superintendent of Education) and Attorney General Tom Horne said the courses politicized students and demonized white people.

Administrators banned at least 7 books from Tucson’s classrooms -- all but two written by Latino authors --when it suspended the courses.

Teachers and advocates deny politicizing students, saying they were demonized for openly discussing heated topics like racism and illegal immigration.

Supporters of the suspended classes point to independent studies, including one commissioned by the state Department of Education, saying that students who attended Mexican American Studies outperformed their peers and excelled at critical thinking.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, by Rodolfo Acuña

    The most successful book written by professor Rodolfo Acuña, "Occupied America" represents all that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne opposed in the Mexican-American Studies program when he launched the attack against it. Horne viewed the curriculum as separatist and ethnically divisive. HB 2281, the law used to <a href="http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/hb2281s.pdf " target="_hplink">ban TUSD's Mexican American Studies</a> program, prohibits courses that "promote the overthrow of the United States government" or "are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group." "These people think you're a separatist if you want to teach and include people," <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/14/local/la-me-0114-tobar-20110114" target="_hplink">Acuña told the <em>Los Angeles Times</em></a> in 2011. "I don't want to be part of Mexico ... That's a stupid thing to argue."

  • 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, compiled by Elizabeth Martinez

    This compilation tells the story of Chicano history from before the European conquest of North America, through colonization and into the present day. The book describes the Southwest as "Occupied America" -- a term that Arizona conservatives often view as unjust and disparaging. Actor Edward James Olmos felt differently: "If young people read this book, they will be strong and proud in new ways," he said on the dust jacket to the 1990 edition. "It's a real education, in the true sense of that word."

  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire

    This seminal work by Brazilian education professor Paulo Freire argued that students learn best when treated as equals and engaged on their own terms. Freire argues against the "banking model" of education, in which teachers treat students as passive recipients of knowledge. His work is studied by education specialists throughout the hemisphere. In a 2012 interview, <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/04/19/neither-banned-nor-allowed-mexican-american-studies-in-limbo-in-arizona/" target="_hplink">Arizona Superintendent of Education John Huppenthal </a> explained why he viewed the book as problematic: <blockquote>The title of Paulo Freire's book is 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed,' and so the question is, who is the oppressed? And as we looked at what was going on in the classroom and looked at what was in the materials, we saw they were putting together a Marxian model in the classroom in which the oppressed are the Hispanic students and the oppressors are the white Caucasian power structure. We came to the conclusion that it wasn't O.K. to be preaching that model in the classroom.</blockquote>

  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, by Bill Bigelow

    A collection of essays, interviews, lesson plans and other materials, <em>Rethinking Columbus</em> aims to change the way students understand the first interactions between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Europeans. One contributing author, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/01/13/whos_afraid_of_the_tempest/" target="_hplink">Tucson's own Leslie Silko</a>, boasts a Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award and a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

  • Critical Race Theory, by Richard Delgado

    The academic field of <a href="http://spacrs.wordpress.com/what-is-critical-race-theory/" target="_hplink">critical race theory challenges</a> traditional ways of looking at race and racism. The field's theoreticians argue that supposedly neutral concepts and institutions, like meritocracy or the legal system, mask systemic inequality and institutionalized racism. Richard Delgado's books is one of the discipline's classics. Some conservatives <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/03/11/What Is Critical Race Theory" target="_hplink">view critical race theory as "dangerous"</a> because some of its proponents view the Constitution and the fabric of American democracy as imbued with racism. During the course of several interviews in 2012, Julio Cammarota, a professor of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona, "You can see the problem, can't you? One side doesn't want to talk about race, the other side wants to talk about race all the time."

  • Message to Aztlán: Selected Writings of Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez

    The term "Aztlán" refers to the mythic homeland of the Nahua of Central Mexico. Intellectuals of the Chicano movement adopted the term to describe the southwestern United States. Mexican-American Studies teachers at Tucson Unified School District taught those concepts with books like this one, by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez, a writer and political activist who helped found the Chicano Movement in the 1960s.

  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, by Arturo Rosales

    This well-regarded study of the Chicano movement serves as a companion to the 1996 PBS documentary of the same name.