Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stegeman's Back-Step Boogie

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Hat tip to to Poco Bravo's Luke Knipe who happened to stick around till the end of the Tucson Unified School District meetingon Tuesday, July 10, to report that board member Mark Stegeman put on the list of future agenda items a possible resolution to un-ban the seven books originally taken out of the Mexican-American studies classrooms in January.

Here's is Stegeman's request:

Yesterday, organizers with Freedom Summer, a group of local and national MAS activists doing canvassing and outreach projects this summer, sent out a press release with UNIDOS that there will be a press conference today at noon in front of Stegeman's house at 85 N. Sierra Vista Drive.

Their press release and Stegeman's campaign email, below the cut.

Raza Studies is Non-Negotiable

On January 10th 2012, the Tucson Unified School District board voted to suspend all Mexican (MAS) classes with a 4-1 vote. A few days after the resolution was passed TUSD representatives entered the classrooms and boxed hundreds of MAS books, thus starting the BAN on Mexican American history books and renowned Chicano literature, which historically document the stories and contributions of Mexican Americans to the U.S.

Fast-forward six months to the upcoming July 24th school board meeting. Former board President and current board member, Mark Stegeman, will be introducing a resolution to “un-ban” the MAS books he had voted to box up in February. As representatives of the movement to reinstate MAS in TUSD schools we question this move on several fronts. Why now? What does Dr. Stegeman hope to gain by this strange reversal? After two years of a relentless drive to help eliminate the MAS program from TUSD, is Stegeman now reconsidering the damage he has inflicted on TUSD students and the Mexican American community or is this an attempt to bolster his re-election campaign by telling more lies to sugar coat the truth?

We believe Dr. Stegeman’s gesture is a poor attempt to placate what he would refer to as “restless natives”. Stegeman’s shady maneuvering to distance himself from his previous decisions and reverse such a serious issue as banning books from classrooms, calls into questions every one of the board’s votes concerning MAS. We further question whether it has really taken Dr. Stegeman six months to come to the realization that banning books is wrong or if the successful efforts of Tucson Freedom Summer are posing a threat to Dr. Stegeman and his re-election. As Tucson Freedom Summer participants survey dozens of local households, evidence of deep concerns regarding TUSD’s actions toward MAS is emerging and is being strategically documented.

Tucson Freedom Summer (a project of Save Ethnic Studies) is a national convergence of activist, artists and organizers who in addition to a month of cultural and educational events are currently launching a citywide informational canvass and survey about the state of education in Tucson. Information about events and volunteering activities can be found at and on Facebook at Tucson Freedom Summer 2012.

Stegeman, through his campaign e-mail address, sent out his own press release this morning to explain his un-ban:

On July 24 the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District will consider a resolution introduced by Mark Stegeman.

The proposed resolution reads:

The books which were used in the suspended Mexican American Studies courses, including the seven titles which staff removed from classrooms in January 2012, shall henceforth be subject to the same rules for classroom use as are all other books which are not specifically approved by the board for a specific course. Those rules, which accommodate incidental or temporary use of unapproved books, are defined by statute, board policy, and the district's posted regulations.

“It’s time to end the special treatment of the Mexican American Studies books,“ Stegeman said. “When the Board suspended the Mexican American Studies classes in January, in response to the threat of a state funding cutoff, the Board’s resolution did not mention books. After discussions with the Arizona Department of Education, TUSD staff made the decision to remove seven titles from classrooms, as a step to show compliance with statute during the transition semester. I understand that reasoning, but that semester has ended, and it is time to move forward.”

Dr. Stegeman is available to answer questions by phone (400-7640), or today, July 18, at 1:30 at his home (85 N Sierra Vista Drive).

Unfortunately, this doesn't really change anything. It's not surprising, Stegeman sent this out on his campaign e-mail. Is MAS love in the air? Probably not, but there's lots of national attention on this school board and most of all, it's campaign season.

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