In the summer of discontent for supporters of the banned Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District, there is still hope.
It's optimism that right will prevail, that wrongs will be corrected and that perseverance will win out in the end.
Isn't that the American way?
"We wouldn't be involved in this struggle if we weren't" optimistic, said Sean Arce, the former director of TUSD's Mexican American Studies.
Throughout July, supporters, both local and national, took part in Tucson Freedom Summer. Organizers convened workshops, teach-ins and demonstrations to keep alive the spirit of Mexican American Studies.
The successful but controversial program was declared illegal by state Attorney General Tom Horne late last year. Threatened with losing millions of dollars in state funds, the TUSD school board suspended the program in January.
Freedom Summer also served as a reminder to those who are indifferent to or opposeMAS that despite the efforts of the state and TUSD to suppress the curriculum, supporters will not rest until the program is reinstated.
"It's an obligation we have to our children," said Arce, who was in Los Angeles on Friday attending a fundraising event to support MAS.
Opponents of MAS may have won this battle, but their efforts have only stoked national support among Latino and educational activists seeking to bring attention to Tucson and TUSD. National bloggers have written extensively on the elimination of MAS, as part of the narrative criticizing Arizona initiatives and individuals - SB 1070, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Russell Pearce.
Local MAS supporters may have been thwarted in their effort to keep Chicano studies in TUSD, but they have been bolstered by related victories: the repudiation of SB 1070 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the recall of Pearce and Arpaio's trial for allowing systematic discrimination and racial profiling by his deputies.
Fighting for MAS is only the latest chapter in the history of Tucson's Chicano community and public education.
In the 1990s, educators and parents butted heads with TUSD to implement a Mexican-American studies program, which eventually was created in 1998. It was a response to a long history of low grades and high dropout rates for Chicano students. MAS did what it was supposed to do: motivate Chicano students to excel in school and continue their education.
Before MAS, in the '70s there was the movement to upgrade facilities and improve educational offerings in TUSD's schools on the west and south sides. Minority students were underserved and denied access to equal opportunities and programs. Black and Chicano parents sued the district and won a landmark desegregation case which put TUSD under federal court supervision.
Before the desegregation lawsuit, in the late 1960s, Chicano educators and parents created and forced TUSD to implement a bilingual education program, one of the first in the country. Proponents proved that bilingual education was an effective teaching method. Nonetheless, Arizona voters in 2000 approved an initiative imported by a California millionaire to abolish bilingual education.
And there's more history, from the creation of public education in Tucson in 1867, when the first teachers - Augustus Brichta and John Spring - taught in Spanish, to later when students were punished for speaking Spanish at school, to the eventual dismantling of institutional segregation.
Clearly, the narrative of Mexican American Studies in Tucson's public education has been one of struggle and success, of tenacity and determination.
It's so American.
Ernesto "Neto" Portillo Jr. is editor of La Estrella de Tucsón. He can be reached at (520) 573-4187 or at email@example.com