Ethnic Studies supporters march to make a stand - Tucson News Now

Ethnic Studies supporters march to make a stand

By J.D. Wallace - bio | email

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) – A march across town Sunday made a stand for ethnic studies.

"We have a lot of support and we hope these classes can stay for the well-being of our community," said Tucson High senior Ashley Bustamante as she marched with as many as 150 other students, teachers, and supporters of Mexican American studies in the Tucson Unified School District.  The group marched from Palo Verde High School on the east side to Cholla High School on the west side.  They marched to stand against a new state law that could end the program.

"There is no racism, we love everybody as they are, we are all human beings, we are sisters and brothers, we're all together en la lucha," Bustamante said.  She is a member of MEChA, the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.

"If we can get the kids hooked, they will be much more motivated into learning," said Ethnic Studies teacher Kevan Kiser-Chuc.

"There are better hooks to use than ethnic chauvinism and teaching kids to value race over individual qualities," said Arizona superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne.  He drafted the law that could hold 10 percent of TUSD's monthly state funding until the program ends.  Horne said that groups like MEChA promote the overthrow of the government, cited literature that he attributed to the organization, and said that kind of philosophy is present in TUSD's Mexican American studies.

"They're teaching the kids a radical agenda.  They're teaching them Arizona was taken from Mexico and that we should give it back, that they're oppressed," Horne said.

"It's important because they can say, 'oh, I'm part of this.  I am part of this America.'  Because many times they don't see themselves and it's looking like it's a little foreign to them," Kiser-Chuc said in defense of the curriculum.

While she will keep teaching the classes that she believes in, Bustamante will keep fighting for them to be taught.

"I know from myself that since I took these classes, I want to graduate from high school, go to a university, have my own job, have a good future," Bustamante said.

The law takes effect at the end of the year.  Several ethnic studies teachers have filed a lawsuit against it.

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