Court Ruling Against Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Program a Crushing Blow

A ruling in the case CURTIS ACOSTA, et al., Plaintiffs, vs. JOHN HUPPENTHAL, et al. Defendants, has been rendered out of United States District Court, District of Arizona. In short, the ruling was a crushing blow to the Mexican American Studies program out of Tucson, which is banned under current Arizona law. As Plantiffs’ attorney Richard Martinez said, “This ruling is the Dred Scott Decision for Mexican Americans.”

Carlos Galindo

The decision’s introduction reads as follows:

This action was originally brought by several teachers and students at Tucson Unified School District No. 1 (“TUSD”) against various state officials including the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal. Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of Arizona Revised Statute § 15-112, which limits school districts’ ability to provide certain race-related curricula. Pending before the Court are cross- motions for summary judgment, Plaintiffs’ second motion for a preliminary injunction, and several other related motions.

As discussed below, Plaintiffs’ primary motion, with one exception, will be denied. The Court’s rulings stem in large part from the considerable deference that federal courts owe to the State’s authority to regulate public school education. The Court recognizes that, in certain instances, Defendants’ actions may be seen as evincing a misunderstanding of the purpose and value of ethnic studies courses. Equally problematic is evidence suggesting an insensitivity to the challenges faced by minority communities in the United States. Nevertheless, these concerns do not meet the high threshold needed to establish a constitutional violation, with one exception. Instead, they are issues that must be left to the State of Arizona and its citizens to address through the democratic process.

The crux of the the entire decision is quite revealing:

Read as a whole, the [Arizona] statute does not proscribe the rights of students to speak freely in the classroom. Instead, numerous facets of § 15-112 indicate that it is directed to school curricula. Thus, the statute expressly limits what a “school district or charter school” may do, and what a “program of instruction” may include. The exceptions enumerated in § 15-112(E) and (F) are similarly directed at certain “courses or classes” and “instruction.” Nowhere does the statute expressly limit what a student may or may not say; moreover, the penalty provision is directed exclusively at school districts that are in violation of § 15-112(A). Indeed, the target of the statute is concisely summarized by its title, “Prohibited Courses and Classes.”6 See Fla. Dep’t of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias, Inc., 554 U.S. 33, 47 (2008) (“[S]tatutory titles and section headings are tools available for the resolution of a doubt about the meaning of a statute.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). In short, the statute does not impinge on students’ right to speak freely in the classroom. Even if the statute could somehow be read to restrict such speech, the Court must reject that interpretation. See Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 689 (2001) (stating that if a proposed interpretation raises a “serious doubt” as to a statute’s constitutionality, court must “ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided”). Accordingly, the Court rejects Plaintiffs’ First Amendment arguments to the extent that they assert an infringement of their right to speak freely on school grounds.

You can read the whole document here, but it is pretty clear right now that MAS will very likely not be returning to Tucson in 2013.

Tashima OKs ban of Ethnic Studies in Arizona by

FULL EPISODE: “Banned in Arizona” from PBS’ Need to Know

Today PBS’ Need to Know premiered “Banned in Arizona.”

Carlos Galindo

Here is the full episode and its official episode description: “This week “Need to Know’ travels to Tucson, Arizona, where a years-long dispute over a Mexican-American studies program has tensions high; supporters say it has helped re-engage at risk students and improved their test scores. Opponents contend it encourages subversive thinking. Claudio Iván Remeseira on the future of ethnic studies.”

NATIONWIDE CALL FOR ACTION: Help Bring Back Chicano Studies in Tucson!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT THREE SONORANS

One of the most important parts of the federal desegregation court order on Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is the new Unitary Status Plan (USP) which is being worked on right now.

Over the next three days, ending at midnight on November 28th, 2012, the public nationwide has an important role to play, and that is to comment on the USP.
 
The USP provides a clear path for the return of MAS classes and its director Sean Arce under Section V.C.: Student Engagement and Support. To learn more about how exactly this USP lays out this new plan, read this article here.

What is important now and how  can get involved is to go to the following link and comment at the bottom of the page and select Section V.C. as the section you are providing feedback on. These comments go straight to the Special Master and WILL be taken into account when he makes his final decision.

The Special Master Willis Hawley is a university professor and loves details, so if you would like to write a longer message to him with references and citations you can do so by sending your message via email to [email protected] or via USPS to USP Comments, P.O. Box 41358, Tucson, AZ 85717-1358.

Remember, however, that the deadline is this Wednesday at 11:59pm.

Every professor, postdoc, graduate student, teacher, student and parent out there from around the country who is interested in education, Ethnic Studies, Chicano Studies, and the future of educating Latinos should submit a comment. It can be as simple as saying that you want MAS and its director to be returned. Also demand a RETURN OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION. Many of those messages will speak volumes, and will make difference!

¡Sí se puede!

Yellow Journalism Rules as Tensions Rise in Tucson Over TUSD and MAS Program

This week, the Tucson Unified School District, which gained national attention when TUSD school board member Michael Hicks appeared on "The Daily Show" to discuss why the board had decided to suspend the district's Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, held another public board meeting this past Monday. The official accounts from local news outlets chronicled pretty basic information about a shift in the MAS program:

The appointment of TUSD's new Mexican American Student Services director was made with little backlash Monday as a crowd of program supporters sat quietly in the Governing Board meeting room. Maria Figueroa was voted in 4-1, with board member Adelita Grijalva dissenting.

"I continue to oppose the changes that have been made to Mexican American Studies – the elimination of courses and the change in direction that appointing this director will make in this department," Grijalva said.

Changes to the department specify that it no longer administer courses – which were found to be in violation of state law – and instead focus on supporting Hispanic students to eliminate disparities in achievement, discipline, special education placement, grade retention and placement in special programs.

However, in the world of online Tucson, there is a contradicting (and poorly reported) story from the Arizona Daily Independent (ADI) claiming that Hicks was assaulted by Sean Arce, the former director of the MAS program, inside the school building where the meeting took place on Monday evening.

A video from The Three Sonorans blog includes footage of the Monday meeting at the end of a 17-minute video of events surrounding the first two days of Freedom Summer 2012, a movement in Tucson that is calling attention to the issues surrounding TUSD and Tucson. In the interest of setting the background for this post, we created a video of the Three Sonorans clips chronicling the Monday protests at the TUSD board meeting and the confrontation between Hicks and protesters. Here it is:

Hiding behind a loose form of "independent journalism" that would make even Breitbart sound like a Pulitzer Prize winner, today the ADI's story was shared on Facebook by Tucson conservative radio talk show host Garret Lewis. Within minutes of posting the following public Facebook post, one person was already calling out Lewis for sharing such a highly inaccurate and biased story. The news about such a false report began to spread.

Under the headline: "TUSD board meeting 'storm' protest fizzles," the ADI story proceeded to pretty much violate every basic tenet of journalism and embarrassed any journalist who believes in solid independent fact-checking and reporting. Let's just say that we cringed when we read it. Journalism 101 is not that hard to learn and independent journalists should try to practice it more often.

Here is an excerpt of the report. (Note: the original "report" by the ADI did not include the detailed video footage by The Three Sonorans, which eventually was added to the end the post. We are wondering if the ADI poster even saw the video before filing story.)

Former Mexican American Studies Director, Sean Arce accompanied by a group of about 15 college age and older adults set upon TUSD Governing Board member Michael Hicks during a recess in the meeting of the district’s governing Board.

A video by a racist blogger known as the Three Sonorans clearly shows Arce with Hicks inside the building as Hicks was returning to the meeting.

According to various sources, Arce confronts Hicks and chest bumped him while insulting Hicks. Hicks stood his ground, while security looked on. At the time, Arce questioned Hicks’ intelligence while stupidly assaulting Hicks a second time. Hicks did not seek the assistance of security, and will not press charges against the 6’4’ former college football player.

During the takeover of he board meeting last spring, Arce assaulted a member of the public twice. Charges were not pressed against Arce in an effort to keep already high tensions from getting higher according to the victim.

The Board voted 4-1 last night to hire Maria Figueroa, former principal at Toleson, to replace the controversial Arce. Adelita Grijalva was the dissenting vote.

The district opted to not renew Arce’s contract as the Director of the MAS program last spring. Instead they offered him another position in the district, but he refused to accept the offer.

According to various sources, a group of thugs or “protesters” were planning a “storm.” They hurled epithets and accusations at Hicks during the “peaceful” protest.

Participants in the “storm” had brought water bottles into the boardroom. It is believed that the protest was called off when Hicks began taking pictures of the wannabe “storm” from his position at the dais.

Again, we are wondering if ADI (and Lewis) even saw the Three Sonorans video. Was it clear that a "6’4’ former college football player" had chest bumped Hicks (even at 4:35 of the video that we produced, there is no clear evidence of anything)? Did they not see the security guards and Tucson police with Hicks and the protesters? Did they not hear what Hicks was saying? Also, we are still wondering where the "thugs" are in the video?

Were people shouting? Yes. Were people cursing? Yes. But the question for us is very simple: why did Hicks come out there in the first place? From the video we saw, the protesters were indeed angry (it was a public meeting that they were not allowed to attend and there were barricades and armed police), but they got much angrier when Hicks showed up. Why did Hicks even show up? What was he trying to prove?

Lewis spent part of his Thursday show basing his "facts" on the ADI story. The following podcast covers his thoughts, starting around the 14-minute mark.

It seems like we are not the only ones who are questioning Lewis' false report. Tucson Weekly also wrote about the incident: 

…local right-wing media want you to know something else about Tucson Unified School District board member Michael Hicks — he was assaulted by former Mexican-American studies students, teachers and supporters at the TUSD special board meeting, Monday, July 2.

However, that's is a complete lie. Loretta Hunnicutt's Arizona Daily Independent and KNST's Garret Lewis described an incident between Hicks and MAS supporters that absolutely didn't happen.

They are right about one thing — Tucson Police Department officers working security during the meeting stood by, escorted him outside and stood right next to Hicks as he took a break to taunt students…

Before the special meeting started, MAS supporters were there as part of a Freedom Summer kick-off — a month long project with events and actions led by organizers and Chicano studies professors from Michigan. Organizers and artists from across the country are spending their July in Tucson for actions and other programs in support of MAS. This support also includes canvassing specific neighborhoods to engage voters on TUSD board elections and MAS.

During an executive session, Hicks walked out and stood on the wheelchair ramp that put him above the students and supporters. Some students chanted Rosa Clarks, and Hicks began to taunt students and jeer at them, while TPD officers stood by.

As Hicks went inside, he turned back to taunt students one more time. Inside, former MAS director Sean Arce told Hicks that the people he was making fun of are his constituents and he invited Hicks to sit down for a conversation away from the cameras and crowd. Sean never threatened him or pushed his chest into Hicks — although Hicks wagged his finger and looked like he was about to do more.

However, this morning, Arce or others aren't talking about pressing charges against Hicks for attempted assault or assault. Take a look at the Three Sonorans video. Toward the end, you see video of what occurred outside the admin building and it ends with a photo that captures what took place. You can see more of what took place that night right here. Thugs? Who are the real thugs here?

I have a call out to School Safety & Security Director Jeff Coleman, as well as TPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Maria Hawke asking why Hicks was allowed and escorted outside to taunt students and supporters? I'm also waiting for Hicks to respond to an e-mail asking why he claims he was assaulted that night.

So, yes, right now in Tucson, up is down and down is up. In the meantime, it is clear that tensions continue to rise, and misinformation is trying to be communicated to the public. There is no real journalistic proof that ADI's account is correct. In fact, it is just one account of one person who didn't even do basic journalism (get two sources, get a quote, talk to the people being accused and those who are making the accusations). That is not how you report real events, especially when so much is at stake.

We also reached out to both Hicks and TUSD today comment. If they respond to us, we will share their responses.

As the US DOE’s Office of Civil Rights Files a Complaint Against TUSD, Tensions Continue to Mount

Last week the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights filed a complaint against the governing board of the Tucson Unified School District, the latest in a series of events that continue to gain national attention, from book bans to Daily Show appearances of TUSD board members.

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

Here is what the Arizona press is saying about the complaint, as well as a local news segment:

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is investigating TUSD's treatment of Latinos at Governing Board meetings.

A complaint filed against the district alleges that it discriminated against Latinos by attempting to limit their participation at board meetings that have been of particular interest to the Latino community.

It has also been alleged that the Tucson Unified School District discriminated against minority individuals with limited English proficiency by failing to provide them with access to district board meetings, the district's website and board policies. The Tucson Unified School District confirmed Friday that it received the complaint, but said it had been forwarded to outside counsel for review, as is district practice with these type of complaints.

The district had no further comment, said TUSD spokeswoman Cara Rene.

Further details about the allegations, to include who filed the complaint, were not available as the investigation is ongoing, the U.S. Department of Education said Friday. According to the Three Sonorans blog, the complaint was filed by the nonprofit Civil Rights Center Inc., which is headed by Silverio Garcia Jr.

Efforts to reach Garcia on Friday were unsuccessful. Phone numbers associated with Garcia were disconnected and a website connected to the Civil Rights Center of Phoenix did not work.

The tension continues to mount at TUSD, so much so that Three Sonorans founder DA Morales, a fervent critic of the TUSD board, made his first public comments in front of the TUSD board. The video is below, but we shared the following words that Morales said at the end of his remarks:

"You guys are going to go down in history, you know what's going to happen, we've seen this history before, the Office of Civil Rights comes in, this is like the Deep South. And you guys are in charge of it, and you guys are going to go down."

From @ThreeSonorans: Ban of Mexican American Studies Makes International News on @PrimerImpacto

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE THREE SONORANS

SCREEN GRAB: http://noticias.univision.com/primer-impacto/videos/video/2012-04-27/estudiantes-en-arizona-luchan-por-estudios-eticos

The international news segment below, from Primer Impacto on Univision, has the latest on the ban of Mexican American Studies in TUSD and makes use of lots of Three Sonorans video.

Week 2 of Unprecedented “Todos Somos Ilegales” Tour Travels Through Arizona’s Border Regions

The "TODOS SOMOS ILEGALES/WE ARE ALL ILLEGALS" Tour, an unprecedented musical, social, political, and cultural journey that celebrates the release of Outernational's “TODOS SOMOS ILEGALES/WE ARE ALL ILLEGALS” album traveled through Arizona last week. From the account we received from Leo Mintek of Outernational below, this tour is more than just songs and an album. Instead, it uses the universal language of music to unite us all, while raising awareness about the real issues surrounding what it is to be an American living in the 21st century. Music has no borders. Neither should human beings. Mintek's account provides a vivid snapshot of a world that is often vilified by the mainstream media and is rarely understood.

As their press release says: "The “TODOS SOMOS ILEGALES/WE ARE ALL ILLEGALS” album is a bilingual cinema-in-sound concept album about the border, the USA, and the system which criminalizes those who create the wealth it rests upon. With tightly-woven soundscapes referencing hard rock, hip hop, cumbia, corridos, gypsy punk, spaghetti westerns, chicha, vintage soul and even bachata, Outernational's "TODOS SOMOS ILEGALES: WE ARE ALL ILLEGALS" is a singular album for 2012." We agree with that last sentence. A lot.

Released as a name-your-price download, the record features collaborations with Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Calle 13 (9-Time Latin Grammy Winner in 2011), Ceci Bastida (Tijuana No!), and Uproot Andy (Que Bajo?!) 

LISTEN TO THE ALBUM AT THE FOLLOWING LINK: 

http://outernational.bandcamp.com

Here is Week 2 of the tour's Arizona diary. The Week 1 diary can be read at the HuffPost.

Leo Mintek – April 20, 2012, writing to you from Santa Maria, California: the Strawberry Capital of the USA.

April 11, 2012

We left Sunset Heights, El Paso, the hilltop above Ciudad Juárez, and drove for the Arizona desert. We crossed the obligatory checkpoints and strip malls and made our way to Sells, AZ, the capital of the Tohono O’odham Nation. We had been invited by TOCA (Tohono O’odham Community Action) for their Cholla Bud harvest feast day. TOCA and the Desert Rain Café are part of a project to farm and revitalize traditional foods of the land—cactus fruits, bean pods, mesquite, etc.—for an indigenous reservation otherwise fed from one huge Basha’s supermarket. It’s being done with the bigger picture in mind: survival and education of native people on their native lands and in particular for the youth who will inherit it all.

We sang campfire style for the small group left after sunset in the community garden – organizers, teenagers, gardeners, O’odhams. We sang about the illegitimacy of the border, they told us what it means for them: the checkpoints they must face every time they come or go from the rez; the helicopters, satellites and militarization; the broken connections to their families and their land south of the line. They told us about the thousands crossing through their reservation, of immigrant deaths from dehydration and coyote infighting, and arrests and captures by the migra. We ate Cholla Buds with garlic and bacon in tortillas. It was our first performance that wasn’t in a bar/club since we left the Galeria way back in Brownsville, TX. This week would be all community venues, off-the-grid spaces, and outside-the-box venues. We planned to return.

April 12, 2012

At 8 a.m. we drove onto the West Campus of Arizona State University in Phoenix. We were invited to perform and close out their “Border Justice Conference.” Carlos from Puente gave the keynote speech including a modern history of Arizona’s war on immigrants and battle for white supremacy. Starting with NAFTA, he laid out an escalating series of legal attacks on civil and human rights and told stories of heartbreaking deportations and the resulting climate of fear. Students from Tucson (UNIDOS) Skyped in and gave a Q&A about their work trying to save their nationally recognized ethnic studies curriculum and mentorship programs, which are being eliminated from the top down.  Afterwards we talked with members of BAJI (Black Alliance for Just Immigration) about the importance of solidarity against white supremacy and the need for everyone’s voice against this systemic problem. We talked about the lack of non-black people in the actions following Trayvon Martin’s murder and the message that sends to black youth that once again they can be killed with impunity.

And we performed. Fighting songs, dancing songs, thinking songs, stories and heart. It was a great show. Afterwards we sat down with the graduate students and discussed our music, the concept, the songs, the tour and why were here in the Southwest singing about the border. We discussed the deeper issues of capitalist-imperialism that create these nightmarish conditions for millions of people.  We talked about revolution. We took off in the evening and drove the furthest north we had yet on the tour—to Flagstaff.

April 13, 2012

We were at the Taala Hooghan Infoshop in Flagstaff, AZ—the “Indigenous established, anti-colonial, and anti-capitalist space.” Next door is Outta Your Backpack Media, an organization that teaches and provides youth, many of them Dine Navajo, with video/photo/Internet skills and equipment. On the bill were Tuba City punk rockers The Blissins, a crazy touring band from the Bay Area, local sober rockers, and our new tour partners in AZ, Shining Soul. Watch their music video for “PAPERS.”

Great music, important lyrics, catchy, strong, soulful beat; it is a great song on many levels. 

April 14, 2012

We dug the van out of the snow which had fallen at night in Flagstaff and alongside our new partners Shining Soul, we traveled to Tucson for a benefit concert at a hip-hop breakdancing space: “Breaking Boundaries”.

The show was for the UNIDOS students who were fighting for their education/future and the O’odhams fighting to stop a new freeway being built through their reservation. First on stage were local young MCs, including a student who you can see in the following video, taking at a Tucson School district meeting voting to end ethnic studies programs.

Shining Soul rocked it, including their remix of “Papers” set to a chopped+screwed sample of “Bulls On Parade”. We played loud and electric but stepped into the crowd to sing “Ladies of The Night” and “Deportees” with accordion and acoustic guitars. Between breakdancing intermissions, an O’odham “Chicken Scratch” (Waila) band performed, and couples broke out dancing all around. “

Chicken Scratch” is the popular music of the O’odham. It sounds like a mix of Mexican music, cumbias and rock and roll, all with a certain musical accent I have yet to digest fully. Really cool music, great melodies played by a multi-generational band on drums, bass, sax, bajo sexto (like a guitar), and a mighty accordion. Watch these to get a sense of it:    

April 15, 2012

We traveled back to Sells on the Tohono O’odham rez. We unhitched the trailer, loaded up the van with Shining Soul and folks from Outta Your Backpack Media and TOCA, and drove south to the border. Cows and horses crossed the road and thousands of different cacti passed by the windows.

The desert valley is surrounded by mountains, which they told us are the preferred route of coyotes and their parties of immigrants since the desert ranchland is too hot with Border Patrol.  We walked up to the border, which is a metal “vehicle barrier.” You can simply step over it. It’s the miles and miles of desert, mountains, and military surveillance that are the real obstacle to cross.

Empty water bottles litter the ground, we found a razor and toothbrush, and were repeatedly checked out by migra in pickup trucks. An O’odham elder told us all the ways the desert holds life for them—the different cactuses, fruits, flowers, and beans. We even saw tiny wild fish and bees inhabiting a well of fresh water, which I can imagine has served many globetrotters coming to the USA. It was beautiful to tour the land and learn its past and its bounty, and very sad to face the current state of events. Native people live under militarized surveillance created to keep out travelers from thousands of miles away. Native people have been completely left out of the story since this land was colonized by the Spanish, then by Mexico, and now by the United States. They have never been consulted about the border, which is now more traveled than ever as the Texas and California border operations drive migrants here to the open desert.

We left Tohono O’odham and the barrier that splits it in two. We drove west through the checkpoint leaving the rez, which included a van search by a German shepherd, and passed through Yuma into Southern California. The next morning we needed to be on campus at Cal State Dominguez Hills for “Music Mondays.” But we could only make it as far as a gas station outside of San Diego, where we parked for a few hours rest.

And so ended our journey through the native lands of Arizona, just another stop on the borderline we had picked up 2000 miles back at the Gulf of Mexico in Brownsville. Now we were entering California, the destination of so many who cross Tohono O’odham, crossing to find work in the cities and the fruit fields of the central valley: the next stop on our "Todos Somos Ilegales" Tour.

The tour continues in Reno tomorrow night before heading back to San Diego and then Tijuana. Here are the latest tour dates:

4/25 – Reno, NV @ Reno Underground

4/27 – Tijuana, Mexico @ Black Box

4/28 – San Diego, CA @ Roots Factory

5/1 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo - TICKETS

 

5/2 – Arizona TBA

5/3 -  El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow Palace

5/4 – San Antonio, TX @ Night Rocker

5/5 – Houston TX @ Continental Club w Los Skarnales

5/8 – McAllen, TX @ TBA

 

5/9 – Brownsville, TX @ Cobblehead's

5/10 – Houston TX @ House Of Blues w Calle 13

5/11 – Austin, TX @ Pachanga Fest w Calle 13

5/12 – Austin, TX @ Pachanga Fest – Hierba Stage - TICKETS

 

5/16 – St Louis, MO @ 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center

5/18 – Chicago IL @ Abbey Pub - TICKETS

5/23 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place

5/24 – NYC @ Dominion NY - TICKETS

 

Three Sonorans: Arizona AG Tom Horne to Speak at Fundraiser for Lawsuit Against MAS Program

We will call the AG's office tomorrow to confirm that Tom Horne did indeed attend a legal fund fundraiser as a public offcial, but for now we will post what The Three Sonorans wrote this afternoon:

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT THE THREE SONORANS

While the top lawyer in the state finds himself under an FBI investigation, the Attorney General of Arizona, Tom Horne, is helping raise money to support a million dollar lawsuit against TUSD-MAS’s Sean Arce and Jose Gonzales.

The John Ward million-dollar lawsuit against Sean Arce and Jose Gonzales also includes their wives’ assets, both of whom are also TUSD teachers, including Norma who is also an MAS teacher.

In addition to this million dollar lawsuit, all three of these MAS teachers may not even be working at TUSD next year as their contracts are not renewed by the top MAS-destroyer of them all, SALC’s John Pedicone.

While TUSD and Michael Hicks Stay Silent, Reaction to Bizarre Daily Show Piece Gathering Steam

Looks like the reaction to The Daily Show appearance from Tucson Unified School District school board member Michael Hicks has started to take a life of its own, as several Arizona outlets have begun to cover the reaction to what was a bizarre and perplexing appearance by Hicks and his explanation as to why TUSD decided to ban the district's academically successful Mexican American Studies (MAS) program.

Fellow TUSD school board member Adelita Grijalva told local Tucson TV that Hicks' interview was irresponsible. She also said: "You know when you Google the Daily Show it says there, comedy show, not a real news show."

After the Rebels got Hicks to email us a statement to us around 12:15 EST, Hicks began to use that statement as his official response to the appearance. We did follow up twice with Hicks for follow-up questions, but he has not responded. The same goes for TUSD leadership, whose spokesperson issued a brief statement to us yesterday afternoon around 2:30 EST. We have left a phone message and an follow up email to Cara Rene, TUSD's Director of Communications and Media Relations, but as of this posting, we have received no reply.

We have also contacted Comedy Central's media office, looking for a comment, but have not heard back from them. Once we do, we will publish a response.

In the meantime, TUSD today decided to not renew the contract of Sean Arce, who is the co-founder of the MAS program. As reported by DA Morales out of Tucson:

However, early today Sean Arce, the sole remaining MAS domino that had yet to be toppled, received notice of non-renewal of his contract; ie. his job with TUSD is over at the end of this semester.

And that's it folks!

No more MAS to see here!

Public discussion on this matter may be available at next Tuesday’s meeting since there will be a call to the audience, but keep in mind that this is John Pedicone’s decision, and all he needs is the vote to approve his decision to fire Sean Arce, who was just awarded the Myles Horton Award from the Zinn Education Project.

TUSD Spokesperson: Hicks Acted as an Individual on @TheDailyShow, Not as a Board Member

In response to last night's The Daily Show segment, where Tucson Unified School District board member Michael Hicks offered some rather bizarre interpretations as to why TUSD decided to ban the academically successful Mexican American Studies program, a spokesperson for TUSD emailed a brief statement, when we requested comment from TUSD and its superintendent Dr. John Pedicone. The following is the email response we got from Cara Rene, TUSD's Director of Communication and Media Relations:

Michael Hicks is a publicly-elected official and was speaking as an individual. His comments do not represent the TUSD governing board or the school district.

If you want further comments, you will need to seek them from Mr. Hicks.

We followed up with a clarification to the email we received from Ms. Rene, reminding her that we did get a comment from Hicks, but that we would welcome additional comment from Dr. Pedicone or any other members of TUSD's governing board. As of this initial posting, we have not received any additional responses from either TUSD or Hicks.

As for the national TV appearance by Hicks, we have this question, which we posed to Rene: If Hicks were speaking as an "individual," why did the segment identify him as a school board member of TUSD? The fact remains: a publicly elected official entrusted to best serve the education of children in Tucson offered rather questionable explanations as to why the MAS program was being banned. According to the interview, Hicks based his vote on "hearsay" and seemed a bit troubled that TUSD teachers were tempting their students with free burritos. Finally, besides calling Rosa Parks "Rosa Clarke" on national TV, Hicks also freely admitted that the Arizona ethnic studies ban was passed only for the MAS program in Tucson. Other similar ethnics studies programs are still active.

School boards and school leaders are public servants of the community. We find it puzzling that in this case, because a comedy news show portrayed the district in a negative light, TUSD leaders choose not to comment nor offer additional explanations about an interview on national TV. Hicks, as the member of a publicly elected school board (see the screen shot above) presented bizarre and unfounded opinions about how a program that has helped Arizona students is being dismantled because of a few publicly elected officials don't agree with the program's vision and used the power of the Arizona legislature to create division in their own community.

We will welcome any official TUSD response at any time and we promise to publish it unedited, but right now, avoiding the issue only makes it worse, in our opinion.