In today's news from Tucson, KNST is reporting that John J. Pedicone, Superintendent of Tucson Unified School District, sent a letter on January 27, 2012 to Dr. Tony Estrada, the Head of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona.
Below are screen shots of the two page letter. Read them below, or download the letter from the KNST site.
To protest the shut-down/"suspension" of the Mexican American Studies classes, students organized a protest that consisted of walking out of school to a day-long ethnic studies teach in at the El Casino Ballroom. Once there, there were a variety of activities taking place. At one table, there was a poetry slam. During the day, professors from the University of Arizona delivered lectures.
Pedicone's letter, in essence, tells Dr. Estrada to tell his faculty and staff to mind their own business. These professors, Pedicone says, got the students in trouble! And now, the district has no choice but to follow their disciplinary policies.
Students, Pedicone writes "have been assigned consequences followed by restorative practices to create a learning experience for them." What are "restorative practices"? Sounds a lot like janitorial work.
In fact, students who walked out a few weeks ago were assigned to do janitorial work. Someone must have figured out that was a bad move, and students went to detention instead. That, however, was a couple of weeks ago.
The Fox News network in Tucson reported this evening that "Students who participated in walkouts from school to protest suspension of Mexican-American studies will be disciplined" and that "Students who have participated in walkouts or other activities that violate TUSD policies can face detention, suspension, or if the activity is repeated, more severe penalties." Is it time for more "restorative practices"?!
I'm sure that some people think that TUSD is running things in an appropriate way, but from my perspective, they're just digging a bigger hole. After shutting the program down, they're now trying to shut out university professors.
It is almost laughable, thinking of the superintendent, wagging his finger at the university, scolding its professors for getting students in trouble, and then turning to wag that finger at students as he directs them to do "restorative" practices.
But it isn't a laughing matter. The well-being and future of the students is at stake. Going back over a decade, teachers in the Mexican American Studies Department at TUSD created a program that should be expanded, not shut down. It has a proven track record of student success.
What will tomorrow's news hold?!
All of this is very bad for the State of Arizona. Those behind the racist laws may think all is fine and dandy, but today's statement from over 20 national and international educational organizations should tell the political machinery in Arizona to back down. They are embarrassing the state on a national and international level.