Thursday, February 23, 2012

TUSD's Mexican American Students Skype in at Yale University for Teach-In

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]


Last night (February 22, 2012), students from the now-banned Mexican American Studies (MAS) classes at Tucson Unified School District skyped in from Tucson to New Haven, Connecticut, for a Teach-In at Yale University.
It was an outstanding event, with a great deal of enthusiasm and support for the MAS students. The MAS students spoke of the need to censor the writing they do in classes because their work can be collected and examined to see if former MAS teachers are violating the ban by continuing to teach from a Mexican American perspective. When asked about ways of providing them with support as they continue to fight the ban of the MAS program, one student referenced a letter they prepared that asks people to send photos of teach-ins and letters to TUSD that demonstrate support for the MAS program. (See the letter below.)

Here's two photos. First is the Tucson students. Beneath it is a photo of the overview I presented at the start of the Teach-In. Both photos were taken by Theodore Van Alst, Assistant Dean of Yale College and Director of the Native American Cultural Center.

Panel members were:
  • Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race & Migration
  • Stephen Pitti, Professor of History & American Studies, Director of Ethnicity, Race & Migration
  • Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Assistant Professor, American Studies
  • Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature

Conversations will continue between Yale professors and students, and the MAS students in Tucson.


To Supportive Educators and Supporters Who Have Access to Students:

UNIDOS is calling upon YOU to help us launch our first NATIONAL YOUTH SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT for the youth and community here in Tucson fighting to preserve Mexican American Studies and stand up for human rights in our society as a whole! This is a moment we can all contribute to in a way that will not only educate youth and students across the country about the injustices going on right here in Tucson, but it will allow for students everywhere to show love and be a part of this movement that belongs to everyone!

UNIDOS has been organizing in Tucson since January of 2011 and hope to continue spreading the message that YOUTH CAN RISE UP! For the latest on the struggle from Tucson, check out our latest media coverage through Real News, and a simple Google News search of "Ethnic Studies in Tucson" will flood in plenty of recent updates and ways to understand the issue.

Attached is a letter calling for National Youth Solidarity, how we hope to gain support and an information political analysis sheet written by UNIDOS to help spark political discussions and spread information directly from youth fighting in the battle in Tucson. Our contact information is provided on the letter and we hope that you can help us forward this first wave of national solidarity to educators and students EVERYWHERE!

If you would like to have educators/students contact us directly, please forward this email and we will be more than willing to introduce ourselves and our intentions to send love to the students still fighting on the front lines. We would love to add more educators' names to our list to outreach to, so please don't hesitate to forward this to friends of friends across the country since this is a NATIONAL solidarity movement!

Thank you so much for your support and we hope this turns into one beautiful push for something Arizona can never take away from us, and something we can continue to grow with everyone's ideas and love!


(United Non-discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies)


In Tucson, Arizona, youth have been fighting for education and human rights in the midst of systematic racist attacks against people of color throughout the state and country. The influence Arizona has had on the rights of youth of color and our families across the country has become absolutely intolerable. Through anti-migrant bills, tactics to push out Latin@ youth from schools and measures to split apart families, Arizona has become the pillar for racism.



UNIDOS is a youth-led coalition of critical thinkers whose purpose is to stand in defense for all injustices within education and in our communities. While defending ethnic studies is the backbone to our creation, we stand as a direct force to mobilize, empower and educate youth to take a stand against all injustices in our community and society as a whole.

In January of 2012, Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal declared Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District "illegal." The district immediately forced teachers to put books away in boxes and has now censored teachers and students from discussing anything related to political issues or Mexican American history.

Mexican American Studies is not just a course; it?s our history!

The ban on Ethnic Studies in Arizona is part of a larger battle being fought and with your support, solidarity can become powerful!

  1. We want Mexican American Studies curriculum to return to its successful
    structure and books to be placed back in the hands of the youth taking these
  2. We want the repeal of HB 2281
  3. We want Tucson Unified School District board members Michael Hicks, Miguel Cuevas and Mark Stegeman to immediately resign for cowardice decision-making.
  4. We want the immediate resignation of TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone for his bullying tactics against MAS teachers, students and Tucson community members.


As part of a larger youth movement, UNIDOS wants to encourage educators throughout the nation to inform their schools about the injustices happening in our classrooms and how solidarity will help us fight back!

With your classes, youth can create powerful images like the photo of ARISE High School in Oakland, CA! Take a photo with your students and send love directly to the youth and teachers fighting for Mexican American Studies in Tucson and across the country!

UNIDOS has attached a political analysis information sheet of the opponents that wouldn't have ever expected youth to rise up nationally. Use that for your reference and discussions as well as contacting us directly for tips on how to begin conversations about the battles in Arizona. We would also love the opportunity to Skype with your classes if students would like to know more directly!

We want an educational system where many cultures fit and a society where borders are obsolete!


UNIDOS (United Non-Discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies)

Please send photos, letters of solidarity, donated books, checks ($), ideas
or thoughts to:


Mailing Addresses (For Books/letters/checks [payable to UNIDOS]):

Derechos Humanos (UNIDOS Donation)
P.O. Box 1286 Tucson, AZ 85702
Derechos Humanos (UNIDOS Donation)
631 S. 6th Avenue Tucson, AZ 85701