Representatives of UNIDOS, the student-led group organized in support of Tucson Unified School District's dismantled Mexican-American Studies program, recently met with three TUSD school board members identified as MAS supporters: Kristel Foster, Cam Juarez and Adelita Grijalva to discuss Judge David S. Bury's deseg decision.
This statement was read at the TUSD school board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12:
First I would like to thank board members Adelita, Kristel and Cammy for meeting with us in a timely manner. We are grateful for the opportunity we had to speak with you three and we gained a lot of insight from each of the meetings.
There is much optimism in our community surrounding the Unitary Status Plan, the new members on the board and Judge Bury’s latest ruling. But in light of Pedicone’s statement that the new Culturally Relevant Curriculum courses will be nothing like the old MAS—UNIDOS recognizes that the TUSD administration has no intent of bringing back MAS as the successful program and department that it used to be. The board must not stand by and allow this to happen like your predecessors on the board did in 1983 with the Superintendent's administrative termination and book-banning of Middle East Studies.
We find that the various Student Services programs do not have the same impact as the Mexican American Studies program did. There are multiple independent reports that back up the success of the program like the Cambian and Cabrera report that have been completely disregarded by the district. There aren’t any studies that show that the “student services” model can improve students’ lives in the same ways that actual pedagogy and curriculum can, like with MAS.
That is why we demand that the district rescind the Hicks Resolution and reinstates the previous Mexican American Studies as a component of the CRC classes. Mexican American Studies is unjustly charged with racism and teaching the overthrow of the government but has taught the acceptance of all peoples and the value of critical thinking.
Next we demand that there be multiple directorship positions for the Multicultural, Mexican-American, and African-American courses. One director cannot absorb all of the responsibilities necessary for the courses to be successful. We all know there are many useless administrative positions at TUSD but these directorship positions will be instrumental to the success of the programs and the achievement of students.
It is essential that these directors be appointed by committees that include youth and community members; as well as the constituents who the director will be serving.
The topic of money always comes up when we deal with TUSD. As everyone should remember, Rincon and Palo Verde high schools were subjected to those insidious turn-around models just to get funds.
But there is around 60 Million dollars coming from the desegregation order—money that has historically been abused and improperly allocated. Director positions don’t sound like a misuse of desegregation money. I would say that it is central to the success of students. If the district believes that one person can handle the job of at least three people then they are setting that person up for failure.
This new board has been given the opportunity to correct history by bringing back our courses that were unjustly banned. The responsibility is on your shoulders but the community voice is and will always be a vital component to the success of any program.