Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
John Pedicone, the much-maligned Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Superintendent, has extended an olive branch to the supporters of the Mexican American Studies Program.
On Monday, in nearly identical letters– one to UNIDOS (the young adult activists group who chained themselves to the school board dias and shut down the April 26 board meeting) and the Mexican American Studies Community Advisory Board– Pedicone said that “actions taken by the district have resulted in high levels of concern and, in many cases, frustration[understatement of the year].” He goes on to say that he has recommended that the TUSD board withdraw the proposal to reorganize Ethnic Studies, brought forth by Mark Stegeman, TUSD board president.
The intensity of the discussion has reached a point where it makes it difficult to consider any resolution at this time. [duh] The deep-seated feelings surrounding this program, either as a result of a strong affiliation to its purpose or, in other cases, a rejection of the premise for its inclusion has created a counter-productive atmosphere that must be changed.
This is a smart move by Pedicone, and I hope the board takes his suggestion. The hate speech fueled by a continuous blogging drumbeat and media blitz on radio and social media often distorted the intent of the proposal and blew the situation way out of proportion. On the day that Osama bin Laden– the world’s most wanted man was captured and killed– what was on the front page of the TucsonCitizen.com? Five stories related to Mexican American Studies.
Since the April 26 board room takeover, there have been several calls for civil discourse to bring out the facts surrounding the Mexican American Studies debate and allow for open discussion with respect from all sides (1, 2, 3, 4). Maybe the hate speech and spin will stop for a while, so this can be accomplished– before Attorney General Tom Horne and State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal step in.
It’s time for radical love for humanity.