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Tucson Youth Address Historic Desegregration Forum: Declaration of Intellectual Warriors

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In tonight's final round of public testimony at Tucson's historic three forums on the proposed " Unitary Status Plan," the federally arranged desegregation agreement between Mexican American and African American plaintiffs and the Tucson Unified School District, the voices of one community desperately need to be heard by the court-appointed "Special Master" and rest of the nation: Tucson's youth.

"In order for these court-ordered district changes to be genuine, sustainable, and transformative," concludes a new statement released by an alliance of student and youth activists, "students and community members must be engaged in meaningful ways at every level of the process."

Few other participants understand and have carried the burden of TUSD's national disgrace over banning Mexican American Studies better than Tucson's youth.

Among the nearly 7,000 students served by the nationally acclaimed but now dismantled Mexican American Studies program, recognized by recent studies for its higher graduation rates, test scores and civic engagement and hailed by educational experts as "the nation's most innovative and successful academic and instructional program in Ethnic Studies at the secondary school level," they have been demonized by extremist state politicians in a bizarre witch hunt for sheer election gain, and dismissed by patronizing TUSD officials; they have witnessed the f iring and persecution of their beloved teachers, and had their Mexican American Studies literature and history curricula and books confiscated from their classrooms.

Throughout Arizona's manufactured crisis over Ethnic Studies, Tucson's youth have been in the forefront of engaging in dialogue and discussion, galvanizing an enduring new civil rights movement, and carrying on a legacy "to restore respect, justice, and equity in our educational experience and school district." 

"As a collective, as students and alumni (Chicano Literature After School Studies program, Tucson High and U of A MEChA, and UNIDOS)," Mexican American Studies alumni and UNIDOS activist Danny Montoya noted, "we held a forum on the Unitary Status Plan, and out of the suggestions of the community, along with our input, we drafted this document--Declaration of Intellectual Warriors--to present to the Special Master and the plaintiffs." 

Here's a copy of the document:

Declaration of Intellectual Warriors
November 26, 2012

Created by:
Chicano Literature After School Studies program
Tucson High M.E.Ch.A
University of Arizona M.E.CH.A
U.N.I.D.O.S
Declaration of Intellectual Warriors

Dear Special Master Hawley,
We, the youth belonging to the Chicano Literature After School Studies program (C.L.A.S.S.), Tucson High M.E.Ch.A, University of Arizona M.E.CH.A, and U.N.I.D.O.S., along with community input, collectively submit the following response addressing the proposed TUSD Unitary Status Plan:
Restoration of Mexican American Studies

The new Mexican American Indigenous Studies program must be built on the foundation of the previous program that had demonstrated quantitative and qualitative measures of success. Therefore, the implementation of the Mexican American Indigenous Studies program and the other Ethnic Studies Programs must take budgetary priority over the implementation of the Multicultural Program.
Expansion of Ethnic Studies

With the expansion and implementation of the new Mexican American Indigenous Studies and African American Studies, we demand that Native American, Asian American, and Middle Eastern American Studies be included in the plan. Core level curriculum will be essential for these courses. We believe that all ethnic groups should have a chance to develop their cultural identity by learning the contributions their people have made in the United States, as well as their experiences in this country.
Core vs. Elective

All Ethnic Studies course must be considered as core English and core Social Studies classes, as opposed to Elective credits.
Women’s Studies and LGBTQ Studies (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer)