Bonus? Did Tucson School Board Reward Superintendent for Mexican American Studies Crackdown?

by Jeff Biggers

Posted: 09/04/2012 7:00 pm

As San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro prepares to take the Democratic Party convention stage as keynote speaker Tuesday evening, the floundering Tucson Unified School Board (TUSD) quietly issued its own message on the city’s nationally acclaimed but now outlawed Mexican American Studies program. Under the cover of a distracted local news media focused on the primary election results last week–and in the face of a US Department of Ed Civil Rights investigation and book-banishing notoriety–the TUSD school board voted to raise the salary on the $211,000 contract of controversial Superintendent John Pedicone, whose use of excessive police force and demonization of Mexican American Studies advocates have earned him the title of “Sheriff Arpaio of American schools.”

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Neto’s Tucson: Hopes for Mexican American Studies endure

Ernesto Portillo Jr. Arizona Daily Star

In the summer of discontent for supporters of the banned Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District, there is still hope.

It’s optimism that right will prevail, that wrongs will be corrected and that perseverance will win out in the end.

Isn’t that the American way?

“We wouldn’t be involved in this struggle if we weren’t” optimistic, said Sean Arce, the former director of TUSD’s Mexican American Studies.

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Targeted Mexican American Studies Teachers in Tucson Set Up Defense Fund

Targeted Mexican American Studies Teachers in Tucson Set Up Defense Fund

Posted by jeffbiggers on alternet
June 20, 2012

First they came for their nationally acclaimed Mexican American Studies courses. Then they came for their books and confiscated them from the classrooms. Next they came for their jobs.

As the latest episode in the witch hunt of the outlawed Mexican American Studies program in Tucson by extremist lawmakers, two celebrated teachers are now facing a dubious and highly disturbing lawsuit for “defamation” by a disgruntled former teacher backed by the Ethnic Studies destroyer, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and his right-wing allies.

For complete post go here: Tuscon Defense Fund


National Call: Tucson Freedom Summer July 2012

Tucson Freedom Summer July 2012-­‐ National Call for Organizers, Artists and Activists Say No to Banned Books! Education is a Human Right!

Tucson, AZ. – This summer Tucson is Ground Zero for the Chicana/o movement. For the past two years Raza and their Allies in Tucson have been fighting the power structure in Arizona battling to Save Mexican American Studies and Ethnic Studies! In the month of July a broad coalition of local and national organizations are calling on organizers, artists and activists from around the country to converge on Tucson as we advance the struggle for human rights in Arizona.

In July activists groups on the ground in Arizona are expecting rulings on SB 1070 the racial profiling law as well as HB 2281 the law that specifically targeted the destruction of Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies program by eliminating millions of dollars of state funding. This six year struggle came to a head in January of this year when the TUSD school board voted to honor Arizona HB 2281 by ending the Mexican American Studies program and then quickly followed this terrible decision by banning over 50 titles from use by Mexican American students!

During Tucson Freedom Summer there will be daily activities for volunteers including but not limited to: canvassing for November school board elections, community education, updating websites, working social media, ceremonias, Danza Azteca, fundraising, direct action along with working and assisting artists, teachers and poets in the popular education of participants and Tucson residents.

Save Ethnics Studies wants to invite organizers, artists and activists to come as individuals, collectives and work groups. To help with travel expenses we are arranging housing in Tucson and all requests will be handled on first come first serve basis.

Why a Freedom Summer in Tucson?

The Tucson Chicana/o-­‐Mexicana/o-­‐Latina/o and Progressive communities have fought valiantly these past two years against racism, cultural bigotry and the anti-­‐intellectualism so pervasive in the power structure of Arizona and around the country. Tucson Freedom Summer is above all a non-­‐violent convergence in the tradition of militant direct action that will bring the best of social justice agitation with it. As such participants will be expected to go through training on non-­‐violence and issues specific to the struggle in Tucson. Participants will be expected to identify themselves as Freedom Summer members and will be expected to follow the rules of Tucson Freedom Summer.

Freedom Summer Release and Call (pdf)


A call for support from the MAS Dept: Tuscon Freedom Summer

This call for support is from the teachers and students of the Mexican American Studies Department in Tucson, Arizona.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It has been quite a year, as you all know. We have faced the destruction of our Mexican lAmerican Studies program and the banning of Chican@/Latin@ literature and history from our students, and multicultural books and voices ranging from Sherman Alexie to William Shakespeare. We have confronted the indignity of state and district monitoring of our compliance of an unjust and racially motivated law that led to a state takeover of our classes. Yet, we will not submit to the oppressive agenda of Phoenix politcos, nor the compromising and weak willed agenda of Tucson Unified School District superintendent John Pedicone and school board members Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks. The latter name you may remember from his infamous appearance on The Daily Show where the right wing hate, paranoia and faith in hearsay, as a legitimate form of decision making, was exposed to the nation. We have seen the firing of a great educational leader, Sean Arce, as the director of Mexican American Studies, a loss which will cause immeasurable damage for our youth in Tucson. And finally, we have even seen the recruitment of former allies to the side of the superintendent, and have been devastated to witness these same friends develop a mullticultural education program on the grave of Mexican American Studies.

However, we will not be deterred. This message is a call for any and all supporters to come to Tucson in July for Freedom Summer 2012. The attached documents will reveal the details, but suffice it to say that we are more energized now than ever to win justice, equal education, and liberation for our youth and community in Tucson. Please distribute the following call to action (Freedom Summer Release and Call) widely, and I hope to hear from you. Without the Education for Liberation Network, Teachers Activist Groups, and the “ryders” throughout the nation we would have suffered even greater. Thank you all.

Lastly, here are a few links to articles that shed further light on the situation in Tucson and are fantastic reads for understanding the national and local dynamics of the Mexican American Studies struggle in Arizona.

Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools wrote the following piece “Repressive Book-Banning from Johannesburg to Tucson:

A MUST read update from the Tucson Weekly by Mari Herreras about a close colleague of ours “crossing the picket line”:

Jeff Biggers on Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s continued fallacies about MAS and Ethnic Studies in Tucson:

In solidarity and In Lak Ech,
Curtis Acosta
Chican@/Latin@ Literature Teacher
Tucson High Magnet School