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Monday, November 26, 2012

A Call for Mexican American Indigenous Studies



The first of three public forums is now in the books. More reporting on this later. Comments can be emailed to the "Special Court Master" by midnight Wed Nov 28 at: To comment directly to the court:

The following document is one that most of our community is signing on to. People/organizations are encouraged to sign on to it also. See end of this post for instructions on how to do this.

Declaration of Intellectual Warriors 

November 26, 2012
Created by:
Chicano Literature After School Studies program Tucson High M.E.Ch.A
University of Arizona M.E.CH.A U.N.I.D.O.S 

Declaration of Intellectual Warriors
Dear Special Master Hawley, 

We, the youth belonging to the Chicano Literature After School Studies program (C.L.A.S.S.), Tucson High M.E.Ch.A, University of Arizona M.E.CH.A, and U.N.I.D.O.S., along with community input, collectively submit the following response addressing the proposed TUSD Unitary Status Plan:
Restoration of Mexican American Studies 

The new Mexican American Indigenous Studies program must be built on the foundation of the previous program that had demonstrated quantitative and qualitative measures of success. Therefore, the implementation of the Mexican American Indigenous Studies program and the other Ethnic Studies Programs must take budgetary priority over the implementation of the Multicultural Program.
Expansion of Ethnic Studie.

With the expansion and implementation of the new Mexican American Indigenous Studies and African American Studies, we demand that Native American, Asian American, and Middle Eastern American Studies be included in the plan. Core level curriculum will be essential for these courses. We believe that all ethnic groups should have a chance to develop their cultural identity by learning the contributions their people have made in the United States, as well as their experiences in this country. 

Core vs. Elective
All Ethnic Studies course must be considered as core English and core Social Studies classes, as opposed to Elective credits. 

Women’s Studies and LGBTQ Studies (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer)
In every section of the Ethnic Studies curriculum there will be an emphasis on the perspective and contributions regarding gender, women, and the LGBTQ community. 

K-8 Expansion
It is imperative that all of the Ethnic Studies programs be expanded to all learning levels. We reaffirm the decision to expand the programs from K-12 grade levels and expect that the newly developed African American, Native American, Asian American, and Middle Eastern American courses be held to the same standard. 

The position of Coordinator of Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Pedagogy needs to be changed to a Director’s position. In addition, there should be multiple directors (i.e., one representing Latino, and one representing African American Studies), with each Director having appropriate teaching experience in the field of study s/he will be directing, and each reflecting the ethnic background of the community s/he serves. 

Public Hiring of Directors
The hiring process of the Directors of Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Pedagogy must include representatives of the community who are former Ethnic Studies students and teachers because of their unique expertise and experience with culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy. These community members must also have decision-making power in the hiring of the directors. 

Community Decision-making Power
To ensure grassroots participation, we demand the creation of a community committee with formal representatives and full voting powers be established, that takes part in the following areas and decisions:
  •   The hiring process of the Directors of Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Pedagogy, and other staff.
  •   Curriculum
  •   Course creation
  •   And Overall USP Implementation and Accountability
    The district must ensure formal representation, with full voting powers, to:
  •   C.L.A.S.S.
  •   M.E.C.h.A.
  •   U.N.I.D.O.S.
  •   Parent
  •   Community member
  •   Former MAS teacher 

    Each program Director (i.e. Mexican American Indigenous, African American, Native American, Asian American, and Middle Eastern Studies) must have the authority to name her/his corresponding program as s/he sees fit in reflecting the cultural relevance of the curriculum. 

    Capacity for new classes
    A course involving culturally relevant pedagogy must be available at every high school. As enrollment demands indicate the need for additional courses, additional courses must be established. The establishment of an Ethnic Studies Class shall be determined by the number of students requesting the class, not by the set number of previously established classes. The number of students in a class should not exceed thirty students; allowing more than thirty students in one class is detrimental to the learning environment. 

    The Unitary Status Plan must promote a pedagogy and curriculum that is free from censorship. Teachers must have the freedom to teach all aspects of the literature and history called for in the curriculum. 

    English Language Learners (ELL)
The Unitary Status Plan must limit the segregation of ELLs to no more than two hours per day. Interaction between ELLs and their English-speaking peers promotes ELLs' acquisition of English and fosters a shared sense of community among all students, while extended segregation creates social divisions and restricts ELLs' opportunities to acquire English in real-world situations. 

Dual Language Programs
The Unitary Status Plan must also recognize and include Dual Language (DL) classes as Advanced Learning Experiences. Dual Language programs provide academic enrichment and offer the same kind of rigorous and challenging instruction found in GATE and IB programs. Moreover, DL programs have a greater capacity to serve ELLs and are more likely to positively affect a significant portion of the ELL population. 

Students guilty of minor infractions shall not be subject to removal from class as a part of their punishment, whether through in-school suspensions or out-of-school suspensions. Humiliation and demeaning disciplinary tactics must be prohibited. 

Restorative Justice
Restorative Practices must be used as stated in the Unitary Status Plan in order to promote accountability, while building a healthy, positive, constructive, and supportive school environment for every student. TUSD must not resort to police, border patrol, or Juvenile Hall as means of disciplinary action. 

TUSD is responsible for the providing school bus transportation for all students. Students must be provided with school buses before and after school. Providing students with public transportation vouchers is an inadequate form of transportation. The use of public transportation extends the travel time from students, taking time from their studies. 

Equal Time in Class
All schools of equivalent educational levels need to be in the classroom for the same amount of time. Decreasing any schools meeting time creates disparities in the quality of education a student receives. 

No School Closures
TUSD proposes school closures that are disproportionately targeting Southside and Westside area schools. This negatively impacts working class, students of color, and their families and communities. It is impossible for TUSD to implement a Unitary Status Plan if it finds solutions in closing down our schools. We ask that the USP clearly state that no school closures are acceptable.

Supervising of the Implementation of the Unitary Status Plan
Students enrolled in TUSD schools and Ethnic Studies courses must have the same right as other community members to play an active role in monitoring the district’s implementation of the
Unitary Status Plan. Their active participation in the monitoring process will be a key factor in keeping TUSD in compliance with the Unitary Status Plan. 

As students, we are clear that in order for these court-ordered district changes to be genuine, sustainable, and transformative, students and community members must be engaged in meaningful ways at every level of the process. To restore respect, justice, and equity in our educational experience and school district, we ask for the full integration of our student demands in your Unitary Status Plan. 

Mr. Hawley, we, the students await a detailed response to all our points above. 

With Gratitude & Sincerity,
Chicano Literature After School Studies program, Tucson High M.E.Ch.A,
University of Arizona M.E.CH.A,

If you would like to sign on to this, send signature/identification to: "Daniel Montoya: or Alanna Castro:

The following are my comments from the Nov 26, 2012 forum.

Cualli Yohualli Dr. Hawley:

Ne hua no Toca Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez. I am a media scholar and an assistant professor in Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. Welcome to Shuckshon – to Tlamanalco: the place where offerings are left.

There’s been a lot of talk in this country about an impending fiscal cliff. If we are going to use metaphors tonight, here in Tucson, Arizona, we’re facing a moral cliff. Yet, as you well know, our community has gone through perilous quick sand and explosive mine fields just to get to this point.

Today, the issue before us is segregation. Yes, it’s the end of 2012 and we are still talking about segregation, disparate funding, unequal schools, substandard education for the majority… and a conscious attempt by the state and by TUSD to destroy that which works for our students: The district’s highly successful Mexican American Studies Department.

The most pressing issue on its face appears to be one driven by the region’s demographics. It only appears that way because both the state and TUSD and its school board have been operating in an apartheid manner… that is but another term for segregation, except it is applied when the minority attempts to impose its will on the majority. Statewide we know that students of color are now the majority in public schools, especially in the lower grades, and in Tucson specifically, we know that also to be true at even higher percentages. The politics of apartheid reigns supreme here in this godforsaken desert.

But let me reiterate; the issues before us are not about demographics but about what is moral. The proposed desegregation plan deals with a number of issues, as it should. So let me simply address a few of them. The effort to destroy Mexican-American Studies/Ethnic Studies in this state has been nothing short of immoral.

The proposed plan appears to affirm the success of Raza Studies. Yes, that’s what it was called before the nasty politics of this state forced administrators to capitulate and call it something palatable to bureaucrats. And then the state, and then TUSD, proceeded to dismantle it, decapitate it, then destroy it. Incidentally, every scientific study affirms the success of MAS, including the latest UA Cabrera, Marx & Milem Study, completed this summer of 2012.

Throughout all this time, the state has always been clear – via Tom Horne and Mr. John Huppenthal – that the state would destroy MAS… But the TUSD board and the superintendent, under the guise that they wanted to improve MAS/Ethnic Studies, not only facilitated the destruction of MAS, but then created a multicultural initiative in its place. Very disingenuous.

As you know, TUSD has objected to the draft proposal for the desegregation plan… and they did this with godspeed on Nov 9, the same day the draft plan was made public. In their objection, first, they say that there are no vestiges of segregation at TUSD, and that even if there were, their multicultural initiative – which is untried, untested, unfounded, etc. – is their solution.

Isn't that special…. The state and TUSD colluded to destroy the nation’s leading program and department – one which had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it is a successful academic program – and then they give us an untried model – and essentially tell you and tell us, the parents and the children of this district, to go away… and to simply trust them. This is highly disturbing. Since 1978, hundreds of millions of desegregation dollars have flowed from the federal government to make things right in Tucson. It appears to have gone to everything, but desegregation.

This time, we have a chance to ensure that desegregation funds go to restoring Mexican-American Studies, solidifying it and then expanding it… as the draft plan essentially advocates, to every high school and to every middle and elementary school in the district. Once this is in place, the district can move on to create that multicultural initiative. If these funds are used properly, the district’s budget crises notwithstanding, there should be no impediment for TUSD to restore MAS, though now our community is calling for Mexican American Indigenous Studies (MAIS).

If it sounds like I do not trust TUSD, that is not true; it is our community that does not trust TUSD. And we have good reason. TUSD has brought about this distrust upon itself, with continual deceptions, distortions and a literal distrust of our community. It has even assaulted our community, educationally, culturally and even physically. Some in our community have been beaten, others arrested, this while our views have been thoroughly ignored and demeaned.

We know that a new school board majority awaits us. From all indications, this new majority are longtime supporters of our beloved MAS department. So we do trust that they will step forward and put the interests of the students first, before politics.

In this community – in Tlamanalco – we trust our youths for it is they that have had the burden of fighting for the rights of our entire community. Our community has entrusted them with the drafting of a document: Declaration of Intellectual Warriors. My statements are in support of it. That is our offering. A document that rejects segregation of any kind, especially against Tucson’s American Indian  students – who are essentially ignored in this draft proposal.

Finally, I wish to state that I am a member of the Arizona Ethnic Scholar’s Network, The National Association of Chicana/Chicano Scholars and the National Association of Ethnic Studies Scholars and Raza Studies Now/Plan de Los Angeles. All these have long supported Tucson’s MAS program and support its restoration and expansion.

Tlazocamati huel miac – Thank you very much

There is still time to comment: To comment directly to the court:
 You can also access the plan via this document. Also see this document as to where to send comments, etc. Click on document to enlarge.:

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