TUSD parents object to politics of awards ceremony

The TUSD Mexican Americans Student Services awards ceremony held last week at Catalina High School, has left many parents, staff, and community members wondering how much students really matter in TUSD anymore. The evening, which was supposed to be a celebration of students’ success, was monopolized by politicians and their self-serving speeches.

The event was supposed to begin at 6:00 p.m., and many parents and students arrived early for their special evening. They had no idea that it would nearly two hours later that the first award would be delivered to a deserving student.

Tucson City Councilman Richard Fimbres actually mentioned the students once or twice in a speech that what attendees considered to be a reasonable time. However, Pima County Board of Supervisor Richard Elias spoke at length, according to one parent, who noted that “he won’t even send his own kids to TUSD schools.” Attendees characterized Elias speech as strictly political, with little or no acknowledgement of the students’ accomplishments or students at all.

By the time keynote speaker, TUSD Board member Cam Juarez took to the stage, the students were growing weary from neglect. That neglect continued for “what seemed an eternity,” according to one attendee. “Juarez spent almost 30 minutes talking about his sister, mother, and politics,” said one long time civil rights activist in attendance, “this wasn’t about the kids. None of it was about the kids.” Attendees said that Juarez’s speech was politically charged and inappropriate for the setting.

One attendee said that she “could not bear to hear one more macho man talk about how great he was and the whole BS.” She said she finally “left in disgust.”

One parent reported that as soon as her child received her award, they left in disgust. She did applaud Superintendent Pedicone for his short and sensitive speech.

Another attendee said that Pedicone was “the only one who talked about the kids at all, she said. Elias talked politics and Fimbres wasn’t so bad according to the parent. The other guy just talked about how he wasn’t welcome as a Mexican on the railroad,” referring to Master of Ceremonies; Martin Carrizosa, “it was weird.”

One district insider said that few of the students invited even showed up for the event, preferring instead to attend Honors events at their own schools “with their friends.”

At least five sets of parents reported to District officials that they were disgusted with the politicization of the event.

The African American Student Services event was considered a success by most in attendance. TUSD Board member Michael Hicks called the event “inspiring.” However, Hicks agrees with those who have advocated for a multicultural event at which all students’ accomplishments could be celebrated together. Hicks said, “We have awesome kids across the District, and they deserve our attention. They deserve a big night. One that is about them.”