3 min read

Evaluation of the Big El Casino Ballroom Meeting

And sos

A training on ‘Organizing for Power in Public Schools’ by Petra Falcon, Lead Organizer of Promesa Arizona in Phoenix.

Wednesday, November 18th, 6:00 to 7:30 pm at John Valenzuela Youth Center (1550 S. 6th Ave.)

As we know, our work has had a huge impact on the deseg case regarding the magnet schools.

But what’s up with the Star? 

Tim Steller and the Daily Star seem to go out of their way to NOT acknowledge the voice of the parents and their power to improve the quality of education.

Last week the Star printed a one sided opinion piece written by Tim Steller titled TUSD spreads ‘Big Lie’ about desegregation case that completely ignores the work parents have done while trying to take away our voice.

Here is an op-ed I sent to the Star which they have yet to print:

by Cesar Aguirre

I found it frustrating that Tim Steller goes out of his way to point out certain facts while conveniently leaving out many very important ones.

Yes, three of today’s five TUSD board members were on the board when the Comprehensive Magnet Plan (CMP) was approved in 2012, but he fails to mention that it was developed by the Mendoza plaintiffs, Special Master Hawley, and former TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone (who divided our community with school closures, a blow still felt by Barrio Centro and the South and West sides of Tucson).

The CMP aimed to punish students of magnet schools by stripping them of their programs and funding for the shortcomings of the district and/or the choices made by Anglo families who leave TUSD for neighboring districts, charter, or private schools. Those who developed the plan should be held accountable and explain to us how this improves education for Latino students.

The CMP was approved and already set into motion when now Superintendent Sanchez was hired the summer of 2013. Another convenient fact left out was that in his first month as Superintendent, he came to a forum in South Tucson with over 250 in attendance and was grilled by our community. We had been following the CMP and knew that we could possibly lose our magnet status. He was asked if he would defend and fight for the magnet programs and the schools that had been neglected for generations. He said he would and has held true to his word.

TUSD then held community forums at magnet schools informing parents of the CMP and the possibility of losing magnet status. When asked how much funding would be taken, the district could only point to the total magnet funding received by each site because the Special Master and Plaintiffs had failed to include in the CMP how much deseg funding would be retained by magnet schools losing status. I believe the community feedback received at these forums is what has driven TUSD to stand with the community and do what is right.

Let us not forget that slavery, discrimination, and many other injustices were at one time the law. Those were different times, and even though the integration numbers in the CMP are based on the demographics of 2012, the idea of forced racial integration is one of “different times”. Parents today want to know why our schools are being forced to integrate by threatening to strip magnet status and funding.

Some would say that studies show diversity improves achievement, and it is true, so why are the plaintiffs and special master ignoring the true diversity within the Latino community, putting us all in one box and ignoring diversity based on class, culture, and religion?

The event at El Casino Ballroom was not done to shame anyone. It was to get all the parties involved to commit to support our magnet schools regardless of the 70% integration standard and to give current parents a voice in this case.

Where is the parent voice in all of this? The Star would have you believe that the ones leading parents are the majority board and superintendent. And that this has been done through misinformation to rally parents against the plaintiffs and special master.

It is insulting to assume that poor minority communities cannot look at facts, know what they want for their kids, and build relationships with those supporting their position to advocate for their kids. Would the Catalina Foothills District receive the same negativity if parents teamed up with them to improve the quality of education for their kids?

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Fighting for Justice, Liberty, & Peace in Barrio Libre