Posted by digoguerra en diciembre 31, 2010
Ethnic Studies is a Human Right! TUSD Governing Board Votes to Defy International Human Rights
By Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa / www.antifronteras.com
The Tucson Unified School District governing board is proving itself to be a highly impotent and negligent force in the struggle for human rights in Arizona.
Fellow Tucson blogger, Abie, from Three Sonorans blog, published the fact that the school board was calling for an emergency meeting where they would announce what the district plans to do in regards to the sinister bill HB 2281, scheduled to go into effect in a matter of hours. Within just a 24 hour notice for the board meeting, the Tucson community—students, parents and community members—quickly mobilized to fill the room to make sure the school board knows that we are present and that we are watching their every move.
Apparently that wasn’t enough to compel the board to stand for justice. Adelita Grijalva, a so-called champion of Ethnic Studies, read aloud a resolution declaring that TUSD will be in compliance with HB 2281! (May I add here how this meeting was one of the most elitist and anti-democratic meetings I’ve been to in a long time? The mighty 5 board members come out of a secret closed meeting, an hour late, sat in their elevated chairs, read a resolution that barely made sense to any Mexican in the crowd, and then they left, with no comments or questions taken publicly. Clearly, the board feels no kind of accountability to students or parents. Aren’t they supposed to work for us and answer to us?) Anyways, back to the point… the board has publicly gone on-record that they will obey and stand behind this slanderous, white supremacist piece of crap bill! And we’re supposed to just watch this unfold?
Hmmm… Where do I begin?
For the record, THEY DID NOT HAVE TO DO THIS. Don’t give me the argument that “their hands are tied” or “what do we expect?” or that “it’s a political move to defend the program”. Please don’t, because I don’t buy any of it. Their hands are not tied, but their political/moral courage to defy the bill has clearly been kidnapped. To add insult to injury, the board even announced it will create a committee to ensure they will be in accordance with this oppressive law! Meaning they will strategize as to how to water-down and compromise the program. Meaning more “reviews”, more Raza Studies staff witch hunts, more censorship. The board is playing with fire and its bound to get burned. Their disturbingly spineless position is a dangerous political move that will backfire because even if TUSD argues that Ethnic Studies does not violate any of HB 2281’s ridiculous provisions, the board has just willingly legitimized the intent behind HB 2281 and that is to get rid of Raza Studies at all costs. The board is playing into the hands of the Republicans and has just positioned itself for defeat, crawling behind fears of right-wing political backlash.
Not just that, but the board also just voted to disregard international law and has now publicly positioned itself diametrically in opposition to human rights.
Has the board forgotten that hours before Jan Brewer signed HB 2281 into law, the United Nations Human Rights Commission formally condemned the bill on the basis that any group has the inherent right to learn about their own cultural history?
A group of UN human rights experts declared their serious concern over laws recently enacted by the state of Arizona, that affect people of color, indigenous people and migrants, subjecting them to discriminatory treatment.
Here are excerpts of what they wrote pertaining to SB 1070 and HB 2281:
“A disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established with the adoption of an immigration law that may allow for police action targeting individuals on the basis of their perceived ethnic origin, and a law that suppresses school programs featuring the histories and cultures of ethnic minorities.
…such law [HB 2281] and attitude are at odds with the State’s responsibility to respect the right of everyone to have access to his or her own cultural and linguistic heritage and to participate in cultural life. Everyone has the right to seek and develop cultural knowledge and to know and understand his or her own culture and that of others through education and information.
…Every measure must be taken to promote maximum tolerance and appreciation for ethnic and cultural diversity in the educational system, to allow it to remain free from racial discrimination in any form.”
So, what part of human rights and international law do the 5 board members not understand? Maybe they should create a committee not on policy, but rather one on how to act like moral, courageous, advocates of students and families. Now isn’t that why we voted them into power? If they don’t fulfill this role, we need to take them out. We need local/community control of our schools! We don’t need people in positions of power that are incapable of upholding our basic human rights.
Our message to the board is clear: Watch out! ETHNIC STUDIES IS A HUMAN RIGHT! And under no circumstances will we let you or anyone else sit on the fence and take it away from us. Our community fought way too hard for us to have this today! Either you stand for students and families or get ready to face the wrath of community power.
You can choose to stand for or against human rights, but drill it in your brains that Raza Studies will live forever…
¡Que viva Raza Studies!