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State Slams Tucson Schools for Ethnic Studies

TUCSON (CN) - On his last day in office, Arizona's top school official threatened to cut 10 percent of Tucson public schools' state funding because some schools continue to teach ethnic studies.

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal sent the threatening letter on Jan. 2 to the superintendent of Tucson Unified School District.

Huppenthal claims TUSD is violating state law by continuing to teach ethnic-studies classes. He threatened to withhold 10 percent of TUSD's funding unless the district provides his former office with more information about the curriculum.

Huppenthal has been at war with Tucson schools since passage of a 2010 state law that bans teaching "ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals," "resentment toward a race or class of people," and promotion of "the overthrow of the United States government."

Huppenthal and his predecessor, Tom Horne, claim that Chicano studies and/or Mexican-American studies programs in Tucson do or did that.

Horne sent the Tucson school district a similar threatening letter on his last day in office, in January 2011.

Huppenthal claims in his letter that black-studies courses are illegal.

"Notably, while TUSD's original violations related to classes taught from the Mexican American perspective, it now appears that some TUSD classes taught from the African-American perspective also violate the law," Huppenthal wrote.

TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez told the Arizona Republic on Friday that his school district must offer such classes, due to a federal court order involving desegregation.

"That order - the Unitary Status Plan - requires us to develop and implement culturally relevant courses taught from both the Mexican American and African American perspectives," Sanchez told the Republic.

Arizona's law is the subject of a federal lawsuit that is set to go before the 9th Circuit on Jan. 12.

Huppenthal left office on Jan. 2.

It is uncertain what position the new state superintendent will take. Diane Douglas is a Republican.

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