Ethnic Studies Revolt: Students Take Over TUSD Governing Board Meeting

Courtesy of the Three Sonorans, the revolution is YouTube-ized

How often have you seen students protest and commit acts of civil disobedience because they want to study something?

While their peers in the rest of the country may be looking to cut class, Tucson's students are battling to maintain ethnic studies in the Tucson Unified School District

Last night they took over TUSD's governing board meeting before it even began, with a brave few chaining themselves to board members' chairs, preventing those members from taking their seats.

On the agenda was a proposal to modify TUSD's curricula, and make Mexican-American studies an elective that would not fulfill a core history requirement.

Students were having none of it. As you can see in the video above from the Three Sonorans blog, they were backed by a massive crowd of supporters that included state Senator Steve Gallardo and pro-immigrant icon Isabel Garcia.

Demonstrators included the brilliant Leilani Clark, one of the nine protesters who chained themselves to the state Capitol building last year in defiance of Senate Bill 1070.

The Capitol Nine were arrested, the charges later dropped. But the activists Tuesday night were not taken into custody by local gendarmes. In the video, you can see one security guard trying to keep the students from taking the seats to no avail. 

This is the difference between Pima County and Maricopa County. You can pretty much bet that here in Sheriff Joe Arpaio country, the cops would have carted off folks in paddy wagons.

Ultimately, the meeting was canceled and rescheduled for May 5. The Arizona Daily Star quotes TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone as stating that the next meeting may be held at one of the local high schools to accommodate even more students, so their voices can be heard.

If this occurs, here's another difference between Pima and Maricopa Counties. In Maricopa, the reaction likely would have been shrill and dictatorial. There have been incidents here recently where politicians have even moved to smaller rooms to keep large, defiant groups out of their meetings.

It's a different world down there in Gadsden Purchase country. Pima-ites have often referred to the region as "Baja Arizona," though the "People's Republic of Pima" might be more accurate. (You may note a little envy on my part.)

Just before taking office as Arizona Attorney General in January, then State Schools Superintendent Tom Horne declared TUSD's Mexican-American studies classes to be in violation of a new state law he had pushed, a law seeking to crush the program.

Potentially, TUSD could lose millions in state funding if it can't work out a compromise with current Arizona Schools Superintendent John Huppenthal.

The ethnic studies program was created in response to a federal court order in the 1970s. African-American studies came first. Mexican-American studies followed in the 1990s.

Anglos can and do attend the classes. Personally, I think the courses should be mandatory for whites, though open to everyone else. Caucasian kids need to learn about the oppression  of other peoples on this continent. That sad history should drilled into their pasty noggins.

Latino students have benefited immensely from ethnic studies. Pedicone himself has cited higher AIMS scores and higher graduation rates among those taking Mexican-American studies courses. Such students are three times more likely to go on to college, Pedicone has said.

So whatever Horne may think of it, the courses work. The ethnic studies students I've met were reading college-level history books and were far more well spoken than the average high school grad.

Their passion and thirst for justice is refreshing. The cards may appear stacked against them, but a determined movement such as theirs will not be easily thwarted. 

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46 comments
Joanne B
Joanne B

wow...reminds me of my days growing up!! very COOL!

Do You Like Worms?
Do You Like Worms?

Yeah any of you dipshits applauding this crap actually check into what theyre teaching in these "ethnic studies" classes??  "Occupied America" happens to be one of "college level history books"...   yeah check it out if you want to read an extremely biased version of history on this continent.  If your ancestors weren't indigenous to this exact fucking spot in Arizona, (like most Mexicans in Arizona)  then shut the FUCK UP with your "ethnic studies" 

jtready
jtready

All the hypocrites here would be screaming bloody murder if it were White students bum rushing the process demanding Aryan studies and the teaching of manifest destiny instead. But we all know there is no more racist than anti-racists. None with more hate than those who hate the haters.

chicagonut
chicagonut

Isn't it hilarious when the Spanish langauge is defended by Mexicans in this country when it is a white European langauge from Spain? The original inhabitants of what is now modern day Mexico were occupied by the Aztecs, Mayans, etc. and their language was not Spanish.

Bobby
Bobby

It is the height of arrogance and true hatred, to expect white students to have to take classes that teach hatred of whites, that this isn't America, that it belongs to Mexico, etc. You loony's that argue for these classes are flat out traitors. Screw you. Enough said!!

Bobby
Bobby

I don't mean you, chicagonut. Your arguments are totally right on.

chicagonut
chicagonut

Pro-"immigrant"? Shoudn't that read pro-illegal alien?

kkhkk1
kkhkk1

Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to damned, and no body to be kicked? From: http://xrl.us/bh8tjk

Julie Sankey
Julie Sankey

You can get Mexican History courses in Mexico I think.

J Curwen
J Curwen

If you don't know anything of interest, why bother to post?

Bobby
Bobby

teknik, the only reason your'e bothered is because you realize I'm an American that DOESN'T FEAR . Try again Bozo.

Venonacables
Venonacables

I would like to see the SAT scores of these unruly students. As a matter of fact, I would like to see Obama's SAT score.

J Curwen
J Curwen

If you can find them, post them. Make sure to include yours for comparison.

Bobby
Bobby

What a frickin waste of the poor U.S.taxpayers money, when universities are free in good old Mexico. The "students" must not have taken psychology yet, because they aren't furthering their cause much by acting like ANIMALS. It's poor SALESMENSHIP. IDIOTS

ap
ap

These students understand the real meaning of being an American better than any faux Tea Partier. The good old boys are afraid of students who are smart, determined and willing to fight for their rights. If you're going to be so afraid of the culture here in Arizona perhaps you should go back to Europe.

Guest
Guest

Occupied Americapage 323“We are fed up. We are going to move to do away with the injustice to the Chicano and if the ‘gringo’ doesn’t get out of our way, we will stampede over him.”

“Gutierrez attacked the gringo establishment angrily at a press conference and called upon Chicanos to ‘Kill the gringo,’ which meant to end white control over Mexicans.”

http://www.academia.org/arizon...

They are NOT fighting for thier rights but rather fighting to FORCE others to take the class! They can take the class if they want!

Bobby
Bobby

The very notion that these "students" entertain, that of having RAZA studies be a required course rather than an elective--shows a degree of arrogance that is shocking. Can any true American accept this crap in their own nation/state? If they can, they deserve everything coming down the road. What we have here with these "students" and the Mexican politicians that are abetting this, is a mixture of arrogance and stupidity, a truly dangerous and distasteful combination. God help this country.

Bobby
Bobby

Go back to Europe? Aint' gonna happen babe. I'm part of the history that built this nation. YOU GO BACK TO WHEREVER YOU CAME FROM.

Kcaj
Kcaj

You mentioned "old Mexico"; did you know Old Mexico was and culturally still is Arizona-New Mexico-California-Texas-Utah-Nevada, and which history is not taught in schools. Mexican American Studies should be mandatory for all students including instructors.

You mentioned "acting like animals", animals do not peacefully protest a wrong. Kudos to the students, long live the USA!

Bobby
Bobby

Kcaj, there isn't a thing old Mexico has contributed to any of those modern U.S. states you mentioned. NOTHING! I do agree with you however that Mexican AMerican studies in those states should be mandatory for all students including instructors. Yes. The suject matter of the course should be ALL OF THE THINGS MEXICO DID NOT ACCOMPLISH IN THOSE STATES, THAT WERE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THEN WE'D BE TALKING REALITY!. AFTERALL, THOSE PROTESTING STUDENTS ARE GOING TO AN AMERICAN INSTITUION PAID FOR BY AMERICAN CITIZENS TAXES. SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT REALITY?

teknik1200
teknik1200

what's it feel like to live in irrational fear of anything different then yourself.

go back under the rock you crawled out from under.

your fear is ugly

Guest
Guest

So they were going to vote on whether or not this program was going to be scrapped??? Opps, whether or not to make it mandatory!!! So these young activists edged on by Isabel Garcia and other adults (They should be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of minors) want to make it mandatory (force students) and the writer thinks that white kids should join in and be brain washed and learn that white is wrong!

Maybe they should concentrate on math, science, US History and put this class right there next to underwater basket weaving!!

ZakRulz
ZakRulz

"On the agenda was a proposal to modify TUSD's curricula, and make Mexican-American studies an elective that would not fulfill a core history requirement."

Learn to read. The meeting was to determine if the class should be changed to an elective status, and if done so it would not count towards a mandatory history credit. If Mexian-American studies is going to go next to underwater basket weaving then Western European studies classes should go there along with it.

Guest
Guest

Zakaca, US History is US History! If these kids want Mexican-American studies then the Asian kids should have Asian-American Studies and the Blacks kids should have African-American studies and the Pollocks, the Russians,so on and so on!

If we are to be a melting pot, them MELT! if what you want is to not MELT then ADIOS!

ap
ap

The Mexican American History class counts toward mandatory history credits. One can take the standard White Washed US History if they want instead. There are African American and Native American history classes, which are also open to all students as the MA classes are. These are the groups that have historically experienced racism and prejudice in Arizona. Being an American does not mean acting "white" or "english" or "protestant". The Indigenous and Mexican cultures have been present vastly longer than "white" culture in Arizona. The O'odham and their ancestors have lived here for 10,000 years, Spanish speaking people have lived in what is now called Arizona for hundreds of years. White Americans were the last to arrive in the mid 1800s. It's totally absurd to expect the original and earlier inhabitants of a land to deny their own culture and language to accommodate the latest white settlers.

FuckthePoliticians
FuckthePoliticians

What I want to know is when is going to be legal to hunt politicians ?

Coz
Coz

I wonder if there will be a limit on how many you can bag and if there's going to be a bounty on them.

Coz
Coz

Was that rent-a-cop copping a feel ?

Jason Marques aka XSoldier
Jason Marques aka XSoldier

These people are illegal criminals leeching off the American taxpayer (ie you and me) for a free education. Why were they even allowed to speak at all? They need to be ziptied, shackled, and forced to secure the border.

Hey! Goddamn illegals! Shut the fuck up! YOUR kind is ruining schools across America.

ernie lopez
ernie lopez

Jason, as usual most people like you are clueless in everything life offers. Before you state something about leeches. well every conversations i had with people, turn out these people are bigger leeches. so tell me how much of a gov check do you get. your a fucken lazy leech, dont worry there will be money for you.

Coz
Coz

Doesn't appear they were illegals dipshit

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Of course you KNOW they are illegals. They are brown and have Spanish surnames. And if they try to "pass", you could ferret them out just like the Nazis could "smell" a Jew trying to hide in Nazi Germany. You sad, silly goober. They are just TUSD high school students who are glad to have some content to their courses and committed teachers to present it. Of course, that's not part of the curriculum that Tory Horne and Hupperthal want kids to study. They prefer the sanitized, mythologized version of history that allows them to peddle their agenda. America is, was, and will be, the "City on the Hill." Unfortunately that is not the case. Discrimination and marginalization of hopes happened - in a big way. The real study of history involves the objective study of past events - even if they are embarrassing to the powers that be. The truth is that Mexicans in Arizona and others of color were considered to be second class citizens until they stood up after WWII and said "nunca jamas." You tea-baggers can huff and puff and wax indignant but you can't change history. The record stands. Live with it or move elsewhere. Thank you for showing your hateful side. That's always what paints your side of the conversation. And by the way, this Goober is a regular troll on the Phoenix Newtimes website.And if you are really an ex-soldier (in our Army?) you stain the profession of American fighting men and women. I am ashamed to think we wore the same uniform.

Joeserrano
Joeserrano

XS you are a freaking idiot.. These students are US Citizens fighting for ethic studies of their own heritage.... as in Mexican-American or Chicano studies for the ignorant layperson such as yourself..?

Why don't you crawl back to your trailer park and have yourself another Pabst Blue Ribbon, maybe this routine will help your drunken bigoted ass see clearly..? You think..?

Concerned citizen/Taxpayer
Concerned citizen/Taxpayer

Stephen, Great article. It's refreshing to see students creating civil disobedience who want to study and learn something. For those students who are looking to cut, maybe their the ones who should have their classes cut from the curriculum. Maybe then they would realize what they took for granted and lost. Most have lost their rights anyway and don't know it.

Crow
Crow

There is so much history in this video. I love it and wish I could've been there. I'm so proud of Tucson.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"How often have you seen students protest and commit acts of civil disobedience because they want to study something?"

It happens. Recently, students and teachers at the Catherine Ferguson School in Detroit joined together to occupy their school in protest against its imminent closure.

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