Tucson Students Storm Board Meeting, Defend Ethnic-Studies Program

Students in Arizona fight back against an effort to remove the ethnic-studies program by taking over the school board meeting.

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Tucson students storm school board meeting. (Google)

Fresh from our "We knew this was coming" file, ColorLines is reporting that Arizona's attempt to dismantle Tucson's ethnic-studies program was dealt a blow Tuesday when students rose up and took over a school board meeting where a resolution to determine the fate of the program was up for discussion. The Tucson school board was set to consider a resolution by Tucson Unified School District Board President Mark Stegemen that would have effectively dismantled the program.

Currently, the school district offers history and English courses in Mexican-American studies that can satisfy students' required credits for the state's core social science requirements. Stegemen called on the district to weaken the program so that the Mexican-American history courses could count only as elective credit.

Fifteen minutes before the board meeting was set to start, Tucson's KVOA reported, nine students stormed the stage and chained themselves to the board members' chairs as protesters filled the room and chanted, "Our education is under attack. What do we do? Fight back!"

The protest, which lasted for hours, was successful enough that the meeting was shut down. District officials vowed to reschedule the meeting and take up Stegemen's resolution at a later date, but students have vowed to continue to pressure the district to back off the resolution.

"Nobody was listening to us, especially the board," said student activist Lisette Cota, AlterNet reported. "We were fed up. It may have been drastic, but the only way was to chain ourselves to the boards' chairs."

Kudos to the students for taking matters into their hands and not allowing the school board to bulldoze their ridiculous proposal through. They made their point without harming anyone and making sure that their voices were heard. Hopefully this effort will have meaningful results, like keeping the ethnic-studies program and making sure that classes that involve race and ethnicity are considered as important as more "traditional" courses. This act demonstrates that this is more than an education issue -- it is a social-justice issue.

Read more at ColorLines.

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