Glendale Sub's Class was Urged to "Thank" Lawmaker in Lesson Plan, as Sub Claimed

​The lesson plan for the class taught by Glendale substitute teacher Tony Hill urges eighth-grade students to "thank" a Democratic lawmaker, as Hill claimed.


And the kids really were reading Mark Twain.

"The letters to (state Senator Steve Gallardo) are to thank him or ask him to change his views on the recent immigration laws," the plan for the March 8 class at Harold W. Smith Elementary School states. (See the plan below.)

Hold on, now -- it's not that we want to defend Hill, whose now-infamous, bigoted letter to state Senator Russell Pearce has caused another racially charged dust-up that Arizona didn't need, and whose troubled family life was exposed yesterday by our own Paul Rubin. Hill refers to his "Hispanic" wife and children in his letter to Pearce: Court records say he choked his wife "at one point" and "physically abused the family pet in front of the children."

The question remains, though: Did Hill lie about his classroom experience?

As we wrote last week, the district already acknowledged to New Times that the class became a tad rowdy. An exit report filled out by Hill after his day in class mentioned that students "refused directions" and "refused to act proper (sic)."

Hill's letter, (published on azcentral), states, in part, that:

The teacher's instructions were for the students to read a few pages and answer the questions regarding Mark Twain in their history textbook and to finish their final drafts to Senator Steve Gallardo thanking him for his position on Illegal Immigration rights. Their teacher apparently had showed them a video with Senator Steve Gallardo and Lou Dobbs. Most of the students came unprepared for class not possessing paper and pencil. I provided the students with paper and pencils only to have them wade-up the paper and throw it at each other along with their pencils.

The students' final drafts that I read were basically the same. Most of them stated they were in the country illegally, White Americans are racist, and that they came here for a better life.

The subs all but been called a liar by the school district for which he once worked. A statement released by the Glendale Elementary School District last week says, "The District ... does not believe that Mr. Hill's email accurately reflects the conduct of the students and staff of Harold W. Smith Elementary School."

Concerning the students' classwork, district officials stated that the "goal of the assignment was to use reason to write a letter that used reason to convince [Gallardo] to change his opinion, or that used reason to support his position."

As mentioned, the lesson plan puts it differently. Hill didn't make up the part about students thanking the Democrat or the part about Twain.

The plan also shows that the teens and tweens had been reading "Roughing It" by Mark Twain and, in an unexpected bit of hipness, a quirky tale by David Sedaris called "Us and Them."

Though the lesson plan suggests that the letters would be sent to Gallardo, the school district's spokesman, Jim Cummings, says he wasn't sure about that. In any case, as we've mentioned previously, the district refuses to comment -- even generally -- about the contents of the students' thank-you letters (or persuasive essays) to Gallardo.

Cummings hit us again with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about federal law. He says the district is prohibited from releasing any info about the essays, and he's working on getting us the exact statutes. We're not asking for the students' names -- we just want to know how much of Hill's letter was fact and how much was bullshit.

The students have been interviewed by school officials, and they deny the arguably anti-American statements Hill attributed to them. But the Glendale district's statement avoids the issue of the content of the essays. They're hiding something.

Hill's been right about some things -- we'll take a wild guess and say that some, though not "most," of the essays do say what Hill says they did.

Lesson Plans

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.