TUSD teachers react to MAS legal victory

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - "It's a great day to be a Chicano and that's how I feel today," said Alexandro Escamilla. His reaction comes one day after a judge ruled racism was the basis for the Mexican American Studies ban in TUSD.

Escamilla is a veteran TUSD middle and high school history teacher who's had to transition from the Mexican American Studies program to what it's become now -- Culturally Relevant -- or C-R.

Escamilla said, "The only thing that's different between now between before the ruling and now is that it's kind of like a sense of vindication I feel." Vindicated because the judge ruled racism played a part in the effort to shut down the M-A-S program. But he says not much has changed in the C-R classrooms. The curriculum is similar and the course materials -- even the banned books -- are still being used.

Yolanda Sotelo is also a master teacher in the CR English program. "I'm bringing that same literature plus new pieces to what I do in the classes So I help the teachers out. They need another piece on Vietnam War. Whether it's a poem or short story I'm adding into what they're doing," said Sotelo.

So both teachers say they're waiting for the district's direction. Escamilla hopes the name reverts to M-A-S. "I've always had an issue with the fact that the word Mexican isn't somewhere in there. Just because I feel like another step in vindicating us and saying it's okay for us to be Mexican. We can be proud of living in the U.S.and being U.S. Citizens and be proud of being Mexican," said Escamilla.

Sotelo hopes the district stays the course. "Let's us continue to teach the Chicano Literature and Chicano History course we've created through CR," said Sotelo.

The case isn't quite over yet. The judge will hold hearings on what the remedy should be.

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