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Keep an eye out for our next post about “La Casita” and what this project is about!
Here is a great way to contribute to UNIDOS and support community building! Click here to donate.
Keep an eye out for our next post about “La Casita” and what this project is about!
Kicking off the Blog with some background information on the ban of Ethnic Studies in Tucson, Az.
The child of cultural amnesia
Speaking in alien tongues
Forced into my parent’s throats by a hand called assimilation.
I know the bullets it takes to rewrite history books
And the charters to sign to erase a people.
My mind germinated
On the banks of scarlet-streamed history
That washes invasions into contracts
Exterminations into settlements
Believing that progress is a word for the actions of rich, straight, white, males
On my classroom walls and textbooks,
And living by a language that turns my grandparents to strangers.
By this, it was almost easy to swallow their story,
Digest their fiction,
And ignore this pounding resistance within my chest
That whispered two, simple, foreign words:
That I am,
The mestizo, the slave of españa nueva,
Who felt a breeze in their hair and earth in their toes with no flag to tell them that it wasn’t theirs,
And turned this whisper of the air and the soil into un grito
More powerful than the bullets of the soldiers of the armies of the crown.
The sunburnt slaves of the Porfiriato farms,
Who heard to long the overplayed,
That the sweat in their brow and crack in their spine
Belonged to the pocketbooks of colonial investors.
The striking farmers of California,
The emptied stomach of Chavez,
The marching Zapatistas in Chiapas,
The 47 martyred clots in the Acteál soil.
I cannot be erased by the monotone of a history class.
I cannot be silenced by the culture of Power.
I am mestizo,
I am Chicano,
I am here,
And I will not be moved.
For months the TUSD governing board has said one thing but done another, its time for UNIDOS to set things straight.
CHECK IT OUT!
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
|-Praised the teachers & curriculum
-Found no violations of H.B. 2281, the Ethnic Studies ban
-Noted higher graduation rates
-Recommended that the program be expanded and kept as a core class
|-Huppenthal finds MAS in violation of H.B. 2281
-TUSD Board appealed the ruling but at the same time cut MAS staff and funding
-No dialogue between TUSD Board and the community
WHAT’S GOING ON, TUSD?
CALL THE TUSD BOARD AND DEMAND THAT THEY:
-Stop dismantling this successful program
– Maintain the department’s structure and its leadership
Let U.N.I.D.O.S. know what you find out!
UNIDOS Audit Finds Huppenthal Unfit to Be State Superintendent
Contact: Elisa Meza 520-991-2320 / Unidos.Tucson@gmail.com
Tucson, AZ-To claim that our cultural heritage is not valid or relevant to be taught within a public education system is appalling. By deeming our Ethnic Studies Program out of compliance, and Mexican American Studies to be a threat to Huppenthal’s white washed view of equitable education, he has unearthed a brand new generation of resistance.
Huppenthal’s decision to characterize Ethnic Studies as hostile towards the dominant American culture has sprouted an awakening to what he fears the most: an empowered young, Latino and non-Latino population.
Students of all colors are organizing not only to save their classes, but to achieve equitable education for all communities in our schools. We condemn Huppenthal’s violation of our right to access our culture and history.
We denounce the validity of his position as state superintendent and will continuing organizing and building power for the betterment of our future.
As UNIDOS, we released yesterday our own findings where we embraced Ethnic Studies for the profound impact it has made in students’ lives. Why isn’t Huppenthal listening to the students he is supposed to represent? Why would he cut a program that tremendously supports students in bridging the “drop-out” gap? Extreme hatred, racism and discrimination are John Huppenthal’s sole motivations.
With the growing demographics making students of color (particularly Latino students) the majority of Arizona’s student population, we find Huppenthal incapable of meeting our needs and consider him severely unfit to be State Superintendent.
The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. are as applicable as ever to Huppenthal and TUSD board: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
We demand that TUSD Governing Board and Superintendent John Pedicone create a resolution announcing they will appeal Huppenthal’s decision and sue the state.
Ultimately, the fate of the program rests in the hands of the TUSD Governing Board.
We will continue organizing for social justice. Their political positions are temporary, but this movement for our human and civil rights will continue to flourish until our community bears witness to a society based on the values of social justice, equality and respect for all of humanity.
They may try to destroy our classes through HB 2281, but they can never lock us out of our education, history and culture.
UNIDOS and COMMUNITY TO HOST OVERNIGHT VIGIL FOR ETHNIC STUDIES
Media contact: Elisa Meza (520)-991-2320
WHAT: An overnight vigil from Tuesday June 14 – Wednesday June 15.
WHO: UNIDOS (United Non-discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies) and Tucson community.
WHERE: 1010 E. 10th Street, TUSD Headquarters, Tucson, AZ
WHEN: Tuesday June 14, Wednesday June 15, 2011, 6:30p.m.
Tucson, AZ — On Wednesday June 15th, State Superintendent John Huppenthal is scheduled to release his findings on whether or not TUSD’s Ethnic Studies Program is out of compliance of H.B 2281. As rhetorically vague as H.B. 2281 has always been, so is Huppenthal’s criteria of compliance.
At the same time that Huppenthal has been conducting his private audit of our classes, TUSD’s Superintendent, John Pedicone, has failed to clearly articulate if or how he would protect our classes.
TUSD will be holding a school board meeting on Tuesday evening and we will be there as supporters of Ethnic Studies and equitable, relevant education, past sundown. The urgency of the release of Huppenthal’s findings on Wednesday needs to be TUSD’s focus. As the state threatens the district with a $15 million cut all across the board, TUSD must defy the bullying tactics of the state and preserve and uphold our classes.
* We demand a public statement, from Superintendent John Pedicone, defying Huppenthal if he decides to change or eliminate our Ethnic Studies program.
* We ask for an immediate end to hostility directed against our MAS Staff (program director and teachers). No staff should be fired from their positions.
* We ask that TUSD sue the state for attempting to enforce a law that violates our human right to access our culture and history.
* We demand Pedicone publicly recommend to the TUSD board to fully support the program by creating a resolution challenging Huppenthal’s decision.
* No changes against the program should take place as there is a teacher’s lawsuit pending in the courts.
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.
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.
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.
UNIDOS Ten Point Resolution on Ethnic Studies:
“We Want an Educational System Where Many Cultures Fit”
Ethnic Studies classes are meant to help students with core class credit, increase student interest in education and give us a chance to learn about not only our own culture, but others as well. Turning our Ethnic Studies classes into elective courses is a slow death sentence to the department for several reasons. First, students are required to take a high number of core requirements in order to graduate – many of the students simply would not have the time within their academic schedules to take both Literature and Mexican-American Literature. Secondly, this move is basically making Ethnic Studies “second class” classes; why should we say to our students that studying Herman Melville counts as core requirement but reading Gloria Anzaldua does not? The school board and the State are completely undermining the value of our history and culture. We say NO to downgrading our Ethnic Studies classes into electives! Our classes must remain core courses!
The wave of anti-Mexican, anti-migrant sentiment in the U.S. is growing. In the Arizona legislature, racism and xenophobia is out of control. In the schools, serious educational inequities are affecting students of color. By making it hard for us to access education and our cultural history, they intend to keep us down us an un-educated, second-class status group that doesn’t know its roots and is used as cheap labor or is incarcerated in the prison system. HB 2281 is only the latest example of a long history of discrimination. Repeal HB 2281 NOW!
The success of this program needs to expand to all school districts, statewide and nationwide. According to 10 years of data compiled by the Mexican American Studies Advisory Committee, 97.5% of students that take these classes graduate high school and 70% will seek out education beyond the high school level. So why would the State of Arizona and TUSD want to eliminate a program that is a solution to the educational crisis Latinos are facing? Do they want us to fail? You would think that because of its success they would want to EXPAND the program. We believe every student in America should have access to Ethnic Studies programs. We want Ethnic Studies to expand throughout all of Arizona and all across the country grades K-12 to all universities!
So politicians in Arizona can fundraise millions of dollars to defend racist legislation in the courts, yet they can’t find money for our books or to keep our schools open? There is no reason why any schools should close. Why is it that prison beds are increasing, while schools are closing? Why are our teachers at Rincon and Palo Verde High Schools fired and disrespected? We want no school turn-arounds, no school closures, and complete support for Rincon and Palo Verde High Schools!
The purpose of a governing school board is to make decisions benefitting students and communities and promote educational opportunities for all. We need an accountable and democratic school board that will listen to students and community. We need strong-willed board members that will defend the community against any and all racist attacks. Right now, we are under serious attack from the Arizona legislature and State Superintendent. Yet the TUSD board as a whole is FAILING to defend us and is in fact considering a vote against us. The school board and superintendent are subject to the will of the people. If they can turn-around our schools, we should have the right to turn-around the board. We want an educational system that truly values students, teachers, community, democracy and ethnic studies! We want a governing board that is accountable to us and stands up for all students!
6. WE WANT AN EQUITABLE EDUCATION FOR ALL.
There are serious problems in the educational system when a high number of Latin@s drop out or are pushed out of our schools. The Pew Hispanic Center recently released a study based on newly released U.S. Census data showing that Latin@ dropout rates are higher than other ethnicities. Of Latin@ adults 20 and over in the United States, 41% do not have regular high school diplomas. Arizona has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the nation. Latin@ students are severely segregated and neglected in the schools. Ethnic Studies is one solution to the deep educational inequities negatively affecting students of color in our Arizona schools. This is why Ethnic Studies must stay. We demand equitable education for ALL students!
7. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL RACIST, ANTI-MIGRANT, ANTI-INDIGENOUS POLICIES.
In April 2010, a group of UN human rights experts declared their serious concern over laws recently enacted by the state of Arizona, that affect people of color, indigenous people and migrants, subjecting them to discriminatory treatment. This is what they said about SB 1070 and HB 2281: “a disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established with the adoption of an immigration law that may allow for police action targeting individuals on the basis of their perceived ethnic origin, and a law that suppresses school programs featuring the histories and cultures of ethnic minorities.” We want an immediate end to white supremacy, anti-migrant, anti-indigenous policies!
The ban on Ethnic Studies is unconstitutional, dehumanizing and is in violation of our human rights. According to Article 31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we have “the right to maintain, control, protect and develop [our] cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.” Basically, Ethnic Studies is a human right. So TUSD, the State Board of Education and the State of Arizona must act in accordance to international human rights law because Ethnic Studies is a human right!
It is clear that these so called leaders of our state do not represent us. Tom Horne, John Huppenthal and Jan Brewer are here to maintain power and control among the rich, while they throw our people under the bus. Politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, that do things to attack or oppress any group must be taken out of their positions. No policy or politician should ever harm a group of people. We condemn Tom Horne for introducing the ban on Ethnic Studies, John Huppenthal for vowing to continue the attack on Ethnic Studies and Jan Brewer for signing racist legislation. They themselves are in violation of HB 2281 because Horne, Huppenthal and Brewer are promoting resentment and hatred towards other races—Latino/Indigenous peoples. According to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, “To secure these rights [of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men [and women], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government…” We demand for their immediate removal from power!
As local tax payers in the community, we should have the right to control our education since we help fund it. Why are we getting told how our education should look like by Phoenix and Tucson politicians that don’t even live in our communities? We, the community of students, parents, and community members, should have direct decision-making power over the decisions that affect our education. We want local control of our education!
AIN’T NO POWER LIKE THE POWER OF THE YOUTH!
As UNIDOS, we will continue to fight for our education even without the support of state politicians or local school board members. Let’s take back our power. The answer is not in adult politicians; it’s inside of us, in our mothers and fathers that sacrificed everything for us, in our grandparents that struggled yesterday and in the youth that struggle today and tomorrow. WE have the power to RISE and create a healthy reality based on dignity and respect for all of us.
We want an educational system where many cultures fit! Let the youth movement move you! Ain’t no power like the power of the youth!
U.N.I.D.O.S is a new youth coalition of students defending our Ethnic Studies program and promoting the values of diversity, justice and equity in our education. / Contact: Unidos.Tucson@gmail.com
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