Unidos has done everything in its power to create dialogue with the TUSD Governing Board. We have spoken numerous times during the call to audience, written letters, met with individual board members and held press conferences. But the Tucson Unified School District has failed to listen to us.
Even before this year, ever since 2006 when former state Superintendent Tom Horne started his vicious campaign against ethnic studies, the youth have been fighting to get their voice heard and express how much these classes mean to us.
The resolution presented by Board President Mark Stegeman to disaccredit our classes is not a reasonable option. Turning our ethnic-studies classes into elective courses is a slow death sentence to our studies because students won't have room in their academic schedules for them anymore.
This move is basically making ethnic studies "second class." The school board and the state are completely undermining the value of our history and culture. Our classes must remain core courses.
TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone is accusing adults of using students as political pawns in regards to last Tuesday's student-led action.
But actually, it was Pedicone and Stegeman's attacks on our education that forced us to take action. If any adults are to blame, it is Pedicone, Stegeman, Horne, new state Superintendent John Huppenthal and Gov. Jan Brewer for attempting to eliminate our ethnic-studies program. Adults in power are creating a hostile environment for students of color at TUSD and all of Arizona. That is why we took action.
Pedicone is also denigrating students' intelligence.
How can you be superintendent of a school district and believe your students are so stupid and apathetic that they would need adults to "brainwash" them enough to care about their own education?
What kind of respectable school administrator would ever trash and undermine his own students? Shouldn't you be happy that students love their education so much that we are willing to risk arrest for it? You say you care about us and our success, but you are passionate about cutting a program that helps us. That doesn't make sense.
It is disappointing to see a superintendent undermine and attack the youth.
Our Tuesday action was intended to hold Pedicone and the board accountable to youth's voice.
We don't want this resolution. What's embarrassing to TUSD about that? The embarrassment is HB 2281 (the state law aimed at ethnic-studies courses). The embarrassment is Stegeman's resolution. The local and national embarrassment is Pedicone and Stegeman for failing to represent the best interests of Tucson youth.
It was announced in the Arizona Daily Star that Tuesday's meeting will be filled with security officers, some of whom will be armed, and that those attending the meeting will be searched, purses will be checked and backpacks will not be allowed.
Pedicone is attempting to silence youth and community voices through heightened security and what we see as intimidation tactics. Pedicone is clearly acting against the will of the people. He does not represent us. That is why we took action.
If the board wants to regain the confidence of the public, we ask once again that you withdraw Stegeman's resolution, preserve and expand our ethnic- studies classes and join the teacher's lawsuit against HB 2281!
IF YOU GO
The TUSD board meeting is scheduled 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at TUSD headquarters, 1010 E. 10th Street.
On the agenda will be a proposal to change some ethnic-studies courses to electives.
The TUSD boardroom and lobby can hold a total of 185 people. That capacity will be enforced. Speakers will be placed outside for the overflow crowd.
Anyone attending the meeting Tuesday will be searched, purses will be checked and backpacks will not be allowed. Metal-detector wands may be used.
Mayra Feliciano and Daniel Montoya are seniors at Rincon High School and are involved in the Mexican- American Studies program. This piece is representative of the Unidos student group. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org