Download as MP3

An effort to bring back books previously used in Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies classes has failed.

Mark Stegeman, a TUSD board member, proposed a resolution to “end all special treatment” to the books taken out of classrooms in January when the classes were shut down.

Stegeman was one of four board members who voted to shut down the classes after the Arizona Department of Education said they were in violation of a state law known as HB 2281.

He has testified against the Mexican American Studies classes but said Tuesday night that it was time to end “the confusion on the issue” of the books.

The resolution came a week before school starts at TUSD and Stegeman said last spring there were “good reasons to create a list” of books taught in the discontinued classes that needed to be removed and stored away. “But now the book issue has produced seven months of theater and I believe it’s time to put it to rest,” Stegeman said.

Adelita Grijalva, a TUSD board member who supports the classes criticized Stegeman’s resolution saying it was politically motivated, because he is up for reelection in November.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy to me, for an individual who has tried for the last three years to destroy the classes in every way possible and testifying for the state against the classes, to now say let’s end the restrictions on the books,” Grijalva said.

Some of the books in question include Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow, 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures by Elizabeth Martinez, and Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales.

Grijalva said she could not support the measure. Board members Michael Hicks and Alexandre Sugiyama, who joined the meeting via telephone, remained silent during the discussion.

Board President Miguel Cuevas said his decision to keep the books out of the classroom still stands, and that led Stegeman to take his proposal off the table.