by Jeff Biggers
Has Wisconsin finally come to Arizona? – April 27, 2011
Tucson Unified School District board meeting last night, 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. (Photo courtesy of Javier Gonzalez)
In an extraordinary uprising at the Tucson Unified School District board meeting Tuesday, 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!”