Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NACLA Report on the Americas: 'The Students Saved the Program'

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM

The current issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas is on Latino student movements and includes an article on part of the fight for Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District. The piece was written by UA assistant professor Nolan Cabrera from the Center for the Study of Higher Education (an ethnic studies graduate from Stanford University), fourth-year UA undergraduate student Elisa Meza (member of UNIDOS), and UA assistant professor Roberto Rodriguez in the Mexican American Studies Department (member of the Mexican American Studies Community Advisory Board).

The North American Congress on Latin America's bi-monthly magazine has been published since 1967, covering "Latin America and its relationship with the United States."

The full story is available online here, but requires a $3 donation. The article is worth it, plus NACLA has a solid editor and covers a variety of important topics on Latin America — topics often overlooked in mainstream press. Ladies, gents and everyone in between, it's worth supporting:

May 3 was a surreal day at the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). That afternoon, the entire neighborhood surrounding the district’s headquarters was blocked off by Tucson police officers. K-9 units were on the prowl for bombs, snipers were stationed on the building’s roof, a bomb squad patrolled the front of the building, and a helicopter hovered above. Dozens of officers lined the streets, and there were police vehicles as far as the eye could see. Near the entrance stood a makeshift altar set up by local clergy. By 4:30 p.m., two hours before the start of the school board meeting, several hundred people gathered outside, in the 90-degree desert heat. The building was locked down. Why this high level of “security” usually associated with militarized societies?

One week earlier, nine students had chained themselves to chairs at the April 26 TUSD board meeting in an act of civil disobedience in protest of the banning of Mexican American Studies. On December 30, 2010, Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne declared the school district’s Mexican American Studies program out of compliance with A.R.S. § 15-112 (introduced as HB 2281)—a law enacted in May 2010 that effectively banned the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona’s K—12 schools and primarily targeted TUSD Mexican American Studies.1 Rather than wait for Horne to destroy the highly successful Mexican American Studies program, the TUSD School Board began dismantling it internally by removing Mexican American Studies classes from core curricula and demoting them to elective status.

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