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PORTSIDE  April 2011, Week 4

PORTSIDE April 2011, Week 4

Subject:

Wisconsin Comes to Arizona? Chained Ethnic Studies Students Take Over School Board in Tucson

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Date:

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 21:58:07 -0400

Content-Type:

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Wisconsin Comes to Arizona? Chained Ethnic Studies Students
Take Over School Board in Tucson

by Jeff Biggers

AlterNet

April 26, 2011

http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/04/26/breaking-wisconsin-comes-to-arizona-chained-ethnic-studies-students-take-over-school-board/


Has Wisconsin finally come to Arizona?

In an extraordinary uprising at the Tucson Unified School
District board meeting tonight, Ethnic Studies/Mexican
American Studies (MAS) students chained themselves to the
board members chairs and derailed the introduction of a
controversial resolution that would have terminated their
acclaimed program's core curriculum accreditation.

Popular Tucson blogger and activist David Abie Morales calls
it a "field trip for civics and democracy in action."

"Nobody was listening to us, especially the board," said MAS
high school student and UNIDOS activist Lisette Cota. "We
were fed up. It may have been drastic but the only way was
to chain ourselves to the boards' chairs."

While hundreds of supporters packed the district meeting
room in a celebratory fashion, nine MAS students and UNIDOS
activists defied security officers and literally took over
the board members' places minutes before the meeting was
scheduled to begin.

"I'm very moved by their passion and commitment to maintain
these courses and curriculum," said MAS teacher Sally Rusk.
"They're brilliant. This is not a one-time event. It looks
like they're not going to stop until they have an impact on
this decision."

TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone canceled the board
meeting, but students have vowed to return to the district
office until TUSD board president Mark Stegemen withdraws
his proposed resolution, which has brought stark divisions
in the community.

Over the past two years, the Ethnic Studies Program in
Tucson has been subjected to a controversial and costly
witch hunt by Attorney General Tom Horne.

"We'll keep coming back, with twice as many people next
time, each time," added Cota. "We're not going to let this
happen. We're going to make it impossible for them to vote."

Through the evening, the students and their community
supporters chanted: "Our education is under attack, what do
we do? Fight back!"

Video - Students take over
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hIaIkDH0_08

Just like the people of Wisconsin took a stand and said
`enough is enough', the youth of Tucson are standing up and
letting it be known that they are fed up with these attacks
on their education and on their future. They have been under
relentless assault by Tom Horne, John Huppenthal, and by the
Arizona State Legislature, and they have had enough," said
Sal Baldenegro, Jr., a TUSD Ethnic Studies alum and member
of the Southern Arizona Unity Coalition. "As Arizonans, we
absolutely must stand behind our youth and say `enough is
enough' with these attacks on their education. There has
never been a more critical time to stand behind our children
as they fight for their rights and for their futures."

Tucson resident and education activist Mohur Sidhwa, who
attended the meeting, added: "A wonderful show of civic
engagement on the part of the students. It gives me hope for
the next generation."

[Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award-winning author of
Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the
Heartland (Nation/Basic Books), among other books. Visit his
website: www.jeffbiggers.com]

___________________________________________

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