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"Bring 'em back": Speakers plead for ethnic studies courses at first desegregation hearing

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"Bring 'em back": Speakers plead for ethnic studies courses at first desegregation hearing

CREATED Nov 26, 2012

Web Producer: Taylor Higgins
Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Things heated up at TUSD Monday night. The first of three public forums dealing with desegregation turned into a blistering critique of the school board and their decision to axe the Mexican American studies program.

Speaker after speaker tonight made it clear they want the classes back.

"A people without a history have no future," said one man.

The desegregation plan on the table class for balancing the racial makeup of TUSD schools and leveling the playing field for Black and Hispanic students.

9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked if students feel like segregation is still a major problem in TUSD schools. "I really do," replied one girl. "It's still here, they've done a good job of making us feel left out and dehumanized."

For many the Unitary Plan is a failure, a non-starter unless Ethnic Studies classes return. Speakers called it vague, a timid document that doesn't go far enough.

"In this document you have failed to specify the things that will end segregation for our students," said attorney Richard Martinez.

The alternative is a document students call "the declaration of intellectual warriors." Among other things, it calls for an expansion of Ethnic Studies courses. They say there can be no real desegregation when a minority group can't learn about itself.

The final plan will go before a federal judge by December 10.

Two more public forums are scheduled for Tuesday, November 27 at El Pueblo Regional Center and Wednesday, November 28 at Palo Verde High School.