Students take over TUSD boardroom in Ethnic Studies face off
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Students supporting TUSD's ethnic studies program stormed a board room just minutes before the school board was to take up a controversial proposal Tuesday night, forcing cancellation of the meeting.
The proposal, by board member Dr. Mark Stegeman, would allow the district to offer the embattled program as elective courses. Currently Mexican American studies can be taken in place of U.S. history as a required core class.
About 15 minutes before the board was to discuss the proposal, students ran in with chains, and tied themselves to the board members' chairs. They then closed the doors and began chanting. Supporters ran to chant with them. So instead of letting the Board vote, the students forced their own agenda. The protest went on for hours.
Under Stegeman's resolution, only Mexican-American Literature would count as a core credit. Other subjects under Raza Studies, like social studies and history, would count as electives.
Opponents call this plan a disguise that is really designed to first dismantle Ethnic Studies and then eventually kill it as a whole. The same ten teachers who filed a lawsuit against the state to keep Ethnic Studies held a press conference Monday morning outside TUSD's administrative offices.
"We're tired of having politicians tell us professionals how to conduct and how to teach kids," said Jose Gonzalez. Together, they called on Superintendent John Pedicone to publicly reject Stegeman's proposal.
Dr. Pedicone did not have a comment. Board Member Adelita Grijalva, said she was "impressed," with the coordination of the protest. Other members called the scene, "civil discourse."
Students said they wanted more members to stay and hear them out, but most left the room.
The vote on whether to make the Ethnic Studies classes electives instead of core classes has been rescheduled for May 5th.