January 22nd, 2012
05:00 AM ET

The dismantling of Mexican-American studies in Tucson schools

Update: Congressional Hispanic Caucus want an investigation into Tucson's ethnic studies ban

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) -  Nearly two weeks since Tucson, Arizona's, Mexican-American studies classes were suspended, some books have been removed from classes, teachers are uncertain about what curriculum to use and some students said they'd like to give district and state school administrators some homework: Listen to the students affected by the decision.

"I just want to talk to them," said Nicolas Dominguez, a senior at Tucson Magnet High School, where administrators removed several seminal Mexican-American studies texts last week. "I want to talk to them about all of this, and I want to get to know them, because you have to get to know people before you can change them. I think it’s essential to become friends with the state superintendent and work together."

The Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District voted January 10 to suspended its Mexican-American studies program after an administrative law judge ruled it violated a new state law and the state said the local district was going to lose $15 million in annual aid. In a district where 60% of the 53,000 students are Latino, some said they felt like Chicano or Mexican-American perspectives on history have become unacceptable.

This week, seven textbooks associated with the Mexican-American studies program were removed from classrooms, provoking claims of censorship. District leaders said they aren't banning the books, but have removed them from classrooms while their content is evaluated.

The district’s Governing Board President, Mark Stegeman, said that copies of some of the books were still available in school libraries. But a search of the Tucson district’s school library online catalog, only a handful of copies of each book were available in any of the 11 high school libraries searchable online.

"I feel really disheartened," said Maria Therese Mejia, a senior at Tucson Magnet High School. "Those are our history, you know? It's ridiculous for them to be taking away our education. They’re taking (the books) to storage where no one can use them."


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