FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- May 10, 2011
CONTACTS: Elisa Meza (520) 991-2320, Daniel Montoya (520) 360-6869
UNIDOS Youth Coalition Denounces TUSD’s Actions
WHAT: Public statement condemning reactions to community
WHO: UNIDOS (United Non-discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies)
WHERE: Tucson Unified School District Headquarters (1010 E. 10th St. Tucson, AZ)
WHEN: 5:45PM – 6:30PM, followed by the TUSD School Board Meeting
At the last two TUSD school board meetings, Mark Stegeman’s resolution to turn ethnic studies courses into electives has been defeated by efforts from both youth and community to protect ethnic studies as is.
- April 26, 2011
UNIDOS youth successfully replace school board officials by chaining themselves to the school board members’ seats. In a non-violent demonstration, youth voice, supported by the community, forced the vote to be postponed. TUSD ordered Tucson Police to remain outside while the community celebrated the power of youth voice and the people, inside the school board room.
- May 3, 2011
John Pedicone orders a militarization of civil discourse at our own school board building and neighborhood. In response to April 26th’s actions, TUSD requests extensive and expensive police units to disconnect the community’s input in Stegeman’s resolution. Upon doing so, Pedicone endangered the community with police brutality, created physical disconnection from the decision-making space, and provoked further onslaught of their responsibility to represent the Tucson community.
As UNIDOS, we feel that Superintendent John Pedicone and President Mark Stegeman have proved to their community their disconnection from engaging and understanding the culture we represent. With full recognition that the community opposes his resolution, Stegeman believes he is competent enough to make a decision without our input. UNIDOS proved on April 26th that there are voices missing from his logic. And last Tuesday, the community stepped up and demanded theirs be heard as well.
To disregard the demand for representation, Pedicone and Stegeman have made public statements claiming that adults in the community have used youth as political pawns. As UNIDOS, who have acted only on the will of the students by students, we denounce their incompetence as leaders. The danger they’ve put the community in has only proved their inability to represent us, as a people demanding equitable education. The community will not stand still and allow for illogical decisions to be made. The community is united and will continue to be, by any means necessary.
PRESS CONFERENCE POINTS AND DEMANDS
1. WE WANT THE IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF MARK STEGEMAN’S PROPOSAL TURNING ETHNIC STUDIES INTO ELECTIVES.
After two weeks of youth and community defending ethnic studies, we have successfully blocked the vote on Mark Stegeman’s resolution turning ethnic studies into electives instead of sustaining them as core class credits. The strong community opposition to such a resolution should immediately delegitimize any notion to lessen the value of our classes. No matter what opinions the board members may hold, it’s the community that has said no to this resolution.
2. WE WANT JOHN PEDICONE AND MARK STEGEMAN TO PUBLICALLY ADDRESS UNIDOS YOUTH AND COMMUNITY FOR THEIR EXCESSIVE USE OF MILITARIZED PRESENCE, THE ARRESTS OF 7 WOMEN, AND POLICE BRUTALITY THAT OCURRED ON MAY 3.
After the militarization of our school board space, Pedicone and Stegeman need to be held accountable for the brutality forced upon the community. By attempting to physically disconnect the community with militarized barricades from the decision making process, Pedicone substantially alienated himself from being a valuable leader to this community. Being fully aware of the community’s opposition to his resolution, Stegeman should have immediately proposed a community forum BEFORE reviving the vote.
3. WE WANT PEDICONE AND STEGEMAN TO RETRACT ALL STATEMENTS BLAMING COMMUNITY ADULTS AND ALLIES FOR INVOLVEMENT AND DIRECTION IN ANY STUDENT-LED ACTIONS.
To publically claim that adults are responsible for youth-led actions is a disgrace to the adults that support ethnic studies and an insult to youth that have worked hard to demand TUSD’s attention otherwise. Since February, UNIDOS has demanded civil discourse, and April 26th was the result of never being given a chance for that dialogue. Resorting to op-eds and interviews with media blaming adults for what UNIDOS organized, Pedicone and Stegeman have claimed nothing but ignorance. Youth need full recognition because they are critically engaged in this community, FOR the community.
4. WE WANT TUSD TO RELEASE A PUBLIC STATEMENT DEFYING THE STATE OF ARIZONA AND H.B. 2281.
Stegeman’s resolution to turn ethnic studies courses into electives has contradicted TUSD’s stance against H.B. 2281. Without any coherence of how the bill can be enforced, Stegeman wrote a resolution to reform a program that is effective AS IS. Despite the pressure of state legislatures such as Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, TUSD needs to stand WITH the community, not against.