Faith Leaders: 'Ethnic Studies Program is a Valuable Educational Program'

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On Thursday, June 16, a group of Tucson clergy issued a letter in support of ethnic studies:

June 16, 2011

Dear Board Members,

As faith leaders within the Tucson community we join the growing chorus of voices in defense of Ethnic Studies. The recent release of the audit has only affirmed what we have long believed - that the Ethnic Studies program is a valuable educational program that has fostered high academic achievement for its students, and has produced engaged community members.

We are writing to urge the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District to take the following actions:
§ Stand in support of the Ethnic Studies Program
§ Join the Mexican-American Studies teachers’ lawsuit against HB2281
§ Meet with students, teachers, and the community to strengthen and improve the Mexican-American Studies program
§ Publicly correct the misinformation disseminated about Mexican-American Studies at TUSD

As people of faith, we recognize how important our history and stories are to us. Scriptures are nothing more than the passed down stories of people who wanted their children and their children’s children to remember the ways in which God had moved within their lives and in the course of human history to bring forth freedom from slavery, forgiveness from retribution, love from hate, and grace from sin. The history of the people of faith within sacred scripture has never been the dominant history; our history is not the history of Egypt but the history of the Hebrew slaves, not the history of Babylon but the history of those carried away into captivity, not the history of Herod but the history of a refugee family who had to flee to Egypt, not the history of Rome but the history of a peasant named Jesus and his followers.

Because we understand how important our history is, we affirm the desire of others to learn their history. As a community of diverse religions, languages, and cultures, it is necessary that we not forget the richness that resides in the history of our people. The Ethnic Studies Program, by enriching the education of our youth, enriches our larger community and teaches us about the ever-important principles of tolerance and civil dialogue.

We encourage everyone in the Southern Arizona community to join together in support of the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies and the entire Ethnic Studies Program.

Sincerely

The Reverend Alison Harrington
Pastor, Southside Presbyterian Church

The Reverend Bill Remmel, S.D.S.
Pastor, Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church

The Reverend Ron Oakham, O.Carm.
Pastor, St. Cyril’s Roman Catholic Church

The Reverend John Fife
Former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

The Reverend Gene Lebevre,
Presbyterian Minister Honorably Retired

The Reverend Randy Mayer
Pastor, Good Shepherd United Church of Christ

Mr. Leo Guardado
Social Justice Minister, MHT

Mr. Noel Andersen, M. Div
Assistant Pastor, Good Shepherd United Church of Christ

The Reverend A. Stephen Van Kuiken
Pastor, Rincon Congregational United Church of Christ

The Reverend Frank Bergen
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church

The Reverend John M. Wall
Hon. Retired, de Cristo Presbytery, Presbyterian Church USA

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