The Arizona school system known for banning a Mexican American Studies curriculum has a new candidate for superintendent -- and he’s Latino.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s is interested in bringing Tucson’s controversial ethnic studies courses back.
H.T. Sanchez, the lone finalist for the position of Tucson Unified School District superintendent, addressed an audience of 50 people on Wednesday, where he offered up his views about everything from ethnic studies to creationism.
“I don’t believe that our job in education is to indoctrinate,” Sanchez said, echoing a criticism of the Arizona conservatives who outlawed Tucson’s Mexican American Studies curriculum. “I believe that our job in education is to inform.”
Sanchez went on to say the district should offer Mexican American Studies if it also offered courses on other ethnicities, like Irish American Studies, Eastern European Studies and African American Studies.
“Everyone has a story,” Sanchez said, according to the Tucson Sentinel.
Hispanics make up the clear majority in Tucson’s schools, according to The New York Times. The district is under a court order to offer "culturally relevant courses" due to a decades-long desegregation case.
The Arizona legislature passed a law aimed at banning Tucson’s experimental Mexican American Studies classes in 2010, after conservative politicians led by current state Attorney General Tom Horne said the teachers were politicizing students by focusing on race and studying socioeconomic conflict from a leftwing perspective. Teachers deny the allegations, and point to independent research showing the classes raised student achievement and college enrollment.
A state-commissioned audit recommended expanding the curriculum.
A federal judge largely upheld the law in March. The plaintiffs have appealed the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Two of the courses’ former teachers, Curtis Acosta and Sean Arce, are partnering with Prescott College to launch an independent, after-school class based on the prohibited curriculum, which students will attend free of charge for college credit.
Those who take a hardcore interest in the Tucson Mexican American Studies ban can hear everything that Sanchez has to say in the video above.