After their stunning defeat in the attempt to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin “educators” arrived in Tucson this week to continue what they described as a “revolution.” A Wisconsin teacher advised her “brothers and sisters” and the TUSD Governing Board members that this is “a revolution” and called for “solidarity” at last night’s Governing Board meeting.
Professor Anita Fernandez advised the Board that that they are in town with a “full commitment to bring back Mexican American Studies here and elsewhere across the country.”
An “educator,” Ernesto Mireles, an adjunct from Michigan State University, advised the Board that he and others are gathering in Tucson this week and have already knocked on over 600 doors to make sure the sitting Governing Board is removed.
The radical group has named their political effort “Freedom Summer” after civil rights effort in the summer of 1964.
The group of about 30 adults and a few students gathered at the Board meeting to begin what they call the “storm.” Isabel Garcia and Roberto “Dr. Cintli” Rodriguez addressed the Board as they almost always do, to spew invective and false claims about the Mexican American Studies classes. Once again Cintli made the bizarre claim that the Native American man, who threatened him in a drunken phone call, was a White Supremecist. He told the Board that they should come to the man’s trial.
The adults once again trotted out Nico, a young man who has become the poster boy for their cause. He approached the speaker’s podium, said he didn’t know why he was there. He then told the Board that all he had to say was “hello,” which was greeted by warm and adoring laughter from his adult “mentors.
One adult who identified herself as a “teacher” told the Board that “the world is watching you, and we are enraged and we will do whatever we have to do to carry on Freedom Summer.”
The meeting was recessed after the public comments. The political operatives did not remain at the meeting to listen to the Board conduct district business.
When the Board returned from recess, Board member Miguel Cuevas said that he had tried to work with MAS educators, “but they did not want to work with us.”
As the truth about the solely political nature of the classes became known to parents, over time, the enrollment in the classes went from a high of a little over 1000 students to less than 180.
The Board continued the business of voting to begin the process of closing down more schools. The political situation in TUSD surrounding the MAS program has been cited as a key reason for student flight. The district has focused much of its efforts in perpetuating a political rather than an educational agenda over the years. Board members Dr. Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks have attempted to change the direction but have had no support from their fellow Board members who support the district’s Superintendent Pedicone and Adelita Grijalva.
Earlier in the public comment portion of the meeting, one dedicated Cholla teacher, who did not join in the “Ethnic Studies” protest, but advised the Board that no one in the district’s administration knows what they are doing. She told the Board that the south side school will lose approximately 200 students this year alone because, “most of our students had long term subs this year, not highly qualified teachers. The administration did not bother to advertise the open positions at all.” Assistant Superintendent Abel Morado oversees the district’s high schools.
The Board voted to begin the school closure process. The district is projected to continue to lose students and the income that comes with them. School closures alone will not solve the looming financial crisis.
While Pedicone, Grijalva, Sugiyama, and Cuevas pushed for a bond election, Stegemen and Hicks have asked for a reduction in administrative costs.
The school closures will affect thousands of students across the district.