Dismantled TUSD Mexican American Studies program getting new life

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Unified School District may have dismantled the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, but the idea behind it is alive and well and about to be launched at the college level.

Curtis Acosta, a teacher who helped organize the classes at TUSD, made that announcement Monday.

Proponents of the now-defunct MAS program say studies showed that it helped students stay engaged in school, improving grades.

TUSD ended MAS when legislators passed a new state law directly targeting TUSD's MAS Program.

This fall semester high school juniors and seniors can take a similar class at Prescott College in Tucson.

They'll earn college credit, and they will take the class free of charge.

The class is called CLASS, which stands for Chicano Literature, Art and Social Studies.

Acosta expects it will be a model for the nation as students study Chicano literature and learn the historical context of that literature.

"It's going to be a real innovative approach to Chicano literature and Chicano studies because we're going to have an art focus. So it will be art-based as far as the product that the students produce. So whether it be through spoken word, hip hop, through film, documentary, teatro, those are the things we're going to be doing," Acosta says.

He says ten to 15 students will be enrolled in the first class and will go through an application process that has not yet been announced.

As for Acosta, this is one of the two ways he is moving on after the elimination of MAS.

Acosta also announced Monday he is launching a consulting business to help schools combat what he calls the "movement" to merely prepare students for tests.

"The Mexican-American/raza studies story shows the importance of critical thinking, shows the importance of building education around reading and writing at a very critical level and empowering youth to look--to analyze the world," Acosta says.

Acosta's new company is called Acosta Latino Learning Partnership.

He hopes to take his ideas nationwide.

In the meantime, Acosta says he is on a leave of absence from TUSD while he pursues his PhD at The University of Arizona.

Acosta says he will update his Facebook page with information on how to apply for the Prescott College class.

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