Tucson Schools Trying To Desegregrate
November 30, 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Tucson Unified School District has started hearing plans for how it is going to desegregate its schools and open equal opportunities for its Latino and African-American students.

It's an issue in Tucson that has gone back nearly 40 years, to 1974 when the district was ordered to set up a plan to desegregate its schools. But in spite of a short-lived reprieve, the district has been under constant federal court supervision.

The latest proposal calls for balancing out the quality of education for minorities and for more equitable hiring of minority employees.

Joann Thompson isn’t optimistic. Seven years ago, she helped draft a plan much like this latest proposal and she said nobody listened then.

"This district has wasted a whole lot of money doing absolutely nothing," she said.

Tucson Unified has been in the national spotlight for the past two years after the state of Arizona banned its Mexican-American Studies program. But this proposal calls for “culturally relevant” courses for Latino and African-American students, which led some in the audience to hope for the return of the now-banned studies program.

Norma Lopez is a recent high school graduate. She says the program got her and some of her peers through high school.

"I know alumni graduated from this program and before this they didn’t have any structure in the system," she told the hearing board.

Wednesday night’s hearing was the last opportunity for parents and students to air their concerns with the proposed plan.

The proposal will be submitted to the federal court on Dec. 10 for review.