These are just a few of the responses nationally to the decision by the Tucson school board to kill the district’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, and box up and cart away hundreds of banned books (see “Outlawing Solidarity in Arizona” ).
In direct response to the attack on the program, the national Network of Teacher Activist Groups (TAG)—of which Rethinking Schools is a member—organized No History Is Illegal, a month of solidarity with Tucson’s MAS program. TAG asked teachers to sign a pledge to “strike back against this attack on our history by teaching lessons from and about the banned MAS program.” They created a website with lessons from the MAS curriculum as well as ideas and resources for exploring the issue with students.
The campaign began Feb. 1, the day MAS teachers were forced to abandon their curriculum and teaching approaches. By the end of the month, almost 1,500 people across five continents had pledged their support, and there were close to 12,000 visits to the website.
From the beginning, current and former MAS students have been active in the campaign to save the program. UNIDOS (United Nondiscriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies), along with teachers, parents, and other members of the community, have demonstrated, protested, and occupied board of education meetings. When the school board voted to close the program and ban its books, hundreds of students walked out of their Tucson schools. They have been protesting ever since. On Jan. 24, UNIDOS held a daylong freedom school, a teach-in on the silenced history.
There is currently a lawsuit in federal court, with three student plaintiffs and three parents, charging that HB 2281 (the Arizona law on which the TUSD actions are based) violates First Amendment rights.