Mexican American Studies: Horne shut out of desegregation case that could help revive TUSD program

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Mexican American Studies: Horne shut out of desegregation case that could help revive TUSD program

CREATED Jul 31, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A major development Tuesday in the fight over Mexican American studies for TUSD.

The man who engineered a state law to shut down the program can not intervene in a lawsuit that could help bring the program back; that's the ruling from a federal judge in the TUSD desegregation case.

Attorney General Tom Horne tried and failed to convince a Judge to let him get involved in TUSD's desegregation case, so Horne could defend his state law that targets TUSD's Mexican American Studies program.

Attorney Richard Martinez says, "The problem with Mr. Horne is failure to appreciate this is a Federal desegregation order and that Federal law trumps state law."
Martinez is suing in a different case to bring back Mexican American Studies.
When he was still Arizona School Superintendent Tom Horne decided the program promotes resentment between races; advocates say it does not---but does improve student achievement.
Horne wrote a law that pressured the TUSD board to disband the program or lose millions in state money.
Mexican American Studies connects to the Federal desegregation case against TUSD that's more than 30 years old.  Supporters argue the program helps counteract years of discrimination.
Now Horne is Attorney General and worried Mexican American Studies could come back in a federal desegregation plan and conflict with the state law used against Mexican American Studies.
The judge ruled Horne out of the case.  He'll have the right of any member of the public:  to contact the special master overseeing the case.

Craig Smith asked Martinez: "So for people who feel strongly in favor of Mexican American Studies this is good news but not a totally sealed victory?" 

Martinez: "I think it would be good news only in the sense of the special master's recognizing that this is vital component in providing equal educational opportunity in addressing the issues of discrimination that have historically within the school district."
Late Tuesday afternoon we talked to Tom Horne on the phone.  He says he wanted to be able to influence the role of Mexican American Studies in the desegregation plan before the plan is put together.  Now he says he may have to appeal the plan after it comes out in September.

Horne says he's not too worried Mexican American Studies would come back in the form he objects to.  He thinks it's more likely to be a matter of blending more Mexican American history into history courses.