Dozens of TUSD students skip school to attend School of Ethnic Studies

Dozens of TUSD students skip school to attend School of Ethnic Studies

CREATED Jan 24, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Just a day after students walked out of class in protest of the Ethnic Studies ruling, they are taking matters into their own hands. Instead of going to their regular classes, they created a school of their own to continue their ethnic studies education.

The student-led group, Unidos, launched the School of Ethnic Studies at its first location -- the El Casino Ballroom. Media was not allowed in while school was in session, but representatives from Occupy Wall Street set up a video livestream on Occupy Tucson's facebook page.

The event organizers say by creating their own school, they will have the space to learn Hispanic history, culture and contributions. They say today's event is an important step to reclaiming their education.

TUSD's Mexican American studies program was dismantled after the state's public school chief and an administative law judge declared the courses violated the law.

"Knowing the students wanted these programs, they took it away. So we're saying no, you can't do that to us. We are going to keep on doing this. We're going to keep on learning. There's nothing that they can do to stop us," said Ashley Bustamante, one of the event organizers.

Since students missed a day of school, KGUN9's Valerie Cavazos started with an exchange on that topic.

Cavazos: "My question is -- students are not learning math and science, which are state mandated?
Bustamante: "This is true. We didn't teach science and math, but that is something that we learn at school.
Cavazos: "But they weren't in school."
Bustamante: "This is true. But today is a day not to talk about other subjects. They are hugely important. They are critical to our learning, I agree."
Cavazos: "Did you tell them that in there? Did they get that message in there?"
Bustamante: "Yes, the way that I see it is that we need to stay in school, we need to be in school, yes. We need to be in school because we learn about math, science, engineering and all that stuff. But if we don't have the most important program that has affected our education, what are we striving for? What's our goal?"

Organizers say this is an ongoing campaign to create autonomous learning environments, however, Bustamonte says Unidos hasn't made any plans beyond today. She says the group doesn't know if any future events will be planned during school hours.