Tonight the Tucson Unified School District will reconvene for a second attempt at discussing a proposed resolution to strip the district’s ethnic studies program of its accredidation. The meeting was rescheduled after students took over, and subsequently shut down, a scheduled meeting last week.

In the interim, the district superintendent John Pedicone said the district is mulling charges for the students who took part in the action. Over the weekend, Pedicone penned an op-ed discrediting the youth-led actions as the product of influence from “adults.”

Some would have you believe this action was taken by a group of students who just made a plan to express their dissent. That is not accurate.

It is clear adults both helped to plan and influence the outcome of that night.

Pedicone is then both deeply insightful about and dismissive of the concerns students have.

In my opinion, students have been led to believe their basic rights to an honest discussion of their heritage are at risk. Students have been convinced the school district is attempting to eliminate a program that simply tells the truth and this action is associated with concerns about immigration and a broad range of issues at the state and federal levels.

Students have been exploited and are being used as pawns to serve a political agenda that threatens this district and our community. Pedicone also said that the resolution, which would effectively dismantle the district’s successful and long-running Mexican-American program, would allow students to only take the history courses for elective credit. Currently, they can be taken to satisfy the state’s core Social Science requirements. Tucson educators have argued that students who move through the program do better in school and have higher graduation rates than students who don’t take the courses.

The fight has bubbled over in the year since HB 2281 was passed. HB 2281 is a state law which outlawed public school classes that advocated “the overthrow of the U.S.,” and whose proponents admitted was a bald attack on Tucson’s ethnic studies program. The state of Arizona had ordered an audit of the Tucson program, though that’s been mired in its own political baggage as well. Tucson also offers African-American and Native-American studies courses that have not been singled out for elimination in the same way.

Now, state legislators are stepping in and supporting students’ demands to hold off on the resolution, KGUN9 reported.

“For the school district to move forward without having the audit and having to see what the superintendent is saying is just premature, so were saying hold off. Hold off,” said Rep. Steve Gallardo.

Change.org has a petition up urging Tucson Unified to veto the proposed resolution.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/05/tucson_school_board_to_debate_future_of_ethnic_studies_tonight.html


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