Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

UNIDOS Day of Action: Misinformation or Pure Propaganda?

unidosRegardless of the cause, spreading misinformation to pump up emotions is not right. OK, call me a Pollyanna in a fact-free universe, but I still believe in telling the truth. UNIDOS, the high school/university student group that supports the revival of now-defunct Mexican American Studies Program in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), is widely distributing this flier through social media. UNIDOS is calling for a Day of Action to commemorate students storming the TUSD board meeting last year. Unfortunately, this flier includes three errors of fact. 1: The overall dropout rate for Hispanic students in TUSD is 2.09% in 2010– not 48%. This is just a bit more than the overall dropout rate of 1.82%; less than half the dropout rate for Native American students (4.41%); and almost twice the dropout rate for white students (1.19%). Here’s the data table. (BTW, “Mexican American” is not listed as a catagory by TUSD– only Hispanic.) 2: The overall graduation rate for TUSD students is 83%, as is the overall graduation rate for TUSD students who have taken at least one MAS course. The biggest difference in graduation rates between MAS and non-MAS students appears when you look at only very low income students. Using a 2010 cohort, 79% of very low-income MAS students graduated compared to 64% of very low income non-MAS students (The data graphic below and others are at the end of this story.) 3: Mexican American Studies is not illegal in Tucson or in Arizona. The state shut down only the TUSD MAS program. MAS is being taught in the Sunnyside School District in Tucson. MAS (of a different variety) could be taught again in TUSD– if someone developed the curriculum. I am not anti-MAS, but I do believe that no program is beyond improvement. As I stated in this article, in my opinion, MAS supporters should learn from their experiences over the last 10 years and develop a new curriculum that reaches more Latino students and has a stronger evaluation component. Now, excuse me while I don my hard hat and wait for the shouts of racist! UPDATE: Fuzzy Math Predictably, rather than explaining how UNIDOS came up with their figures, this blog was attacked because I didn’t tow the MAS party line. Just to clarify the charge of “fuzzy math”… the 83% graduation rate shown in the graphic below is based upon a “2010 four-year graduation cohort” (subset of students), according to the TUSD Excel spreadsheet from which I created the graphic. The 2.09% dropout rate is across all TUSD schools. The dropout rate was taken from this handy TUSD table, which allows anyone to quickly find dropout rates– and lots of other data– by school, by year, by ethnicity, etc. (If you’re into data and evaluation, check out the TUSD website. There is a lot there.) What’s the difference between these two figures? For the math majors out there, the percentages were derived from different data sets– one a four-year cohort, the other all students, all grades, all schools. (Apples and oranges, as they say in the math world.) Secondly, there are other reasons students don’t graduate– besides dropping out and quitting school. People move. People die.

Originally published in Blog for Arizona on April 25, 2012.

Do MAS classes improve graduation rates among Latino students?

Do MAS classes improve graduation rates among Latino students?


This entry was posted on April 25, 2012 by in Arizona, education, equality, MAS, Politics, Tom Horne, Tucson, TUSD and tagged , , , .
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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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