Estimadas/os: The silencing of Mexicans continues in Tucson. Not only are the MAS teachers and its Director being silenced, so is David Abie Morales, aka “The Three Sonorans,” who reports on the TUSD MAS situation.
As will be discussed below, the War on Mexicans in Arizona has been waged and is being carried out by Republicans, but the Republican Mexican Haters snag the occasional Democrat (e.g., TUSD school board members Mark Stegeman, Miguel Cuevas, state legislator Daniel Patterson) to help them do their dirty work against the Mexicans.
Warning: At the end of this narrative, I am going to entreat you to engage in a bit of civic duty and e-mail the TUSD school board members and the managing editor of the Tucson Citizen. In the final analysis, the Constitution and the rights it confers on us are worthless if we do not exercise those rights.
As to the campaign to Silence the Mexicans, consider the following facts (no spin, no interpretation):
* First was the silencing, i.e., dismantling, of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies curriculum at the behest of Superintendent John Pedicone and on a Motion by school board member Michael Hicks. It’s important to keep in mind that of four  “ethnic studies” programs in TUSD, ONLY the MAS program was targeted by Horne, Huppenthal, Pedicone, and the school board. All the other ethnic studies programs are intact and operative.
The vote was 4-1, with board member Adelita Grijalva dissenting. Democrats Mark Stegeman and Miguel Cuevas joined Republican-Tea Party Hicks on this vote.
Books by Mexican Americans (and Meskin Lovers like that ol’ barrio guy Memo Shakespeare)
* Then, on the order of Superintendent John Pedicone, came the seizing and banning of books by Mexican American authors and other books and works used in MAS classes (e.g., Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”—see next item). In spite of TUSD’s protestations that there is no “book ban,” the fact is that the books that were seized from MAS classrooms were put in boxes clearly labeled “Banned Books.”
* Then, on the order of Superintendent Pedicone, came the silencing of the MAS teachers in TUSD. As was reported widely, and acknowledged by TUSD officials, MAS teachers were forbidden—under threat of being fired!—to discuss certain ideas and concepts (e.g., discrimination, justice, oppression, civil rights, slavery) in their classes and lessons.
For example, MAS literature teacher Curtis Acosta was given an order—confirmed by TUSD officials in a newspaper interview—that he could not teach Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” because the play explores issues such as fairness, oppression, and colonization. (“The Tempest” was one of the books seized from Acosta’s classroom during the Mexican Book Purge.)
This silencing edict is ethnic specific, viz.: White teachers in predominantly white schools are allowed to teach “The Tempest”…only MAS teachers are banned from teaching “The Tempest.”
MAS Director Sean Arce
* And now, on the order of Superintendent John Pedicone, MAS Director Sean Arce has been fired. Competency, performance, or behavior issues are not involved in Sean’s firing. Actually, just last week, in recognition of Sean’s leadership in “one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the U.S.,” the Zinn Education Project conferred its 2012 Myles Horton Education Award for Teaching People’s History award on Sean.
Below is a link to a Jeff Biggers article on Sean’s receiving the Zinn Award.
The above is straightforward fact. What is evident to me and others familiar with the dynamics of the situation is that Sean was fired solely and only (redundant on purpose) because
- Sean was the face of the opposition to the dismantling of the MAS curriculum. That is, Sean was the person who indefatigably spoke (in the media, at school board meetings, at forums, etc.) in defense of the MAS curriculum, teachers, and students;
- Sean and the entire MAS faculty called for Pedicone’s resignation several months ago;
- Sean’s daughter is one of the two student plaintiffs in the Save Ethnic Studies lawsuit (a federal judge ruled earlier this year that Sean and the 10 MAS teachers had no standing to sue).
- Sean commented—in response to a question by a participant—on the TUSD-MAS-book banning situation at a workshop at the “White House Hispanic Summit” at Sunnyside High School on Jan. 30. TUSD administrators sat in the workshop to monitor Sean and reported Sean and his comments to TUSD Superintendent Pedicone.
And now, David Abie Morales, aka The Three Sonorans
Logging over 1.6 million visits, or “reads,” over the past year, Abie’s blog, “The Three Sonorans” is the most widely read Latino blog in Arizona, but his following goes way beyond Arizona. If you have followed the MAS issue to any degree, in the words of former TUSD school board member Sylvia Campoy,
“It is very likely that you read 3 Sonorans as a key source in keeping up with what is actually happening relative to critical issues in our community, such as TUSD and Mexican American Studies as well as other issues. Recently, it was 3 Sonorans who broke the story on the domestic violence incidences involving (Democratic State Representative) Daniel Patterson. It is DA Morales’ blogging and videos that have helped many of us keep a pulse on matters that are dear to us within our community.”
Abie is often the first to report important events. And, he calls people out when he sees hypocrisy, racism, unethical behavior, and the like, and he does so on a non-partisan basis. Democrats and Republicans, white folks and Latinos(as) alike have felt the sting of his criticism as well as the stroke of his praise.
A signature feature of Abie’s blog was his videos. Often, Abie doesn’t simply report on events; he provides video proof. And if the situation doesn’t lend itself to being filmed, Abie provides documentary evidence (minutes of minutes, letters, police reports, etc.). Abie’s insistence on proof is probably rooted in the fact that he is in the latter stages of his Ph.D. work in Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona…mathematicians live and die by proofs.
Disgraced public officials call for Abie’s firing
As can be imagined, Abie upset a lot of folks by calling them out and providing proof of their hypocrisy or other misdeeds.
Indicative of whom the Tucson Citizen listens to is the fact that it was the complaints of two disgraced public officials—men who have proven themselves to be embarrassments to their political parties, the public bodies they represent, their communities, and their constituents—whom Abie outed in his blog who coerced the managing editor of the Tucson Citizen, which carried The Three Sonorans, to drop his blog.
* One of these disgraced officials is (Republican, Tea Party) TUSD school board member Michael Hicks, who made the motion on Jan. 10 to dismantle the MAS curriculum.
On Monday of this week (April 2), Hicks gave an incredibly embarrassing interview to a Daily Show reporter in which he asserted that
- the MAS program was singled out for elimination;
- he and the TUSD board acted on “hearsay” (as opposed to hard data or evidence) in deciding to dismantle the MAS program;
- the reason MAS students are upset at the dismantling of the MAS curriculum is because the MAS teachers bought them “burritos” and now there will be no more burritos;
- Rosa Clark started the Civil Rights movement (and didn’t shoot anyone);
- Black people are one-quarter human;
- Blacks should not resent white people because of slavery because, after all, slaves had jobs here—“slavery jobs.”
Below is a link to that interview if you haven’t yet seen it. Even as you laugh at Hicks’ stupidity, realizing that he is in charge of our children’s education will sober you right up!
Earlier in the year, Hicks went on a radio hate program and compared the University of Arizona MAS faculty to the child rape-sodomy situation at Penn State. Abie called him out on this outrage (as did I in an Op-Ed in the Arizona Daily Star).
And Abie floated the notion of a Recall Hicks movement.
Well, Hicks complained to the Managing Editor of the Tucson Citizen, Mark Evans, about Abie’s coverage of him and the TUSD school Board. Hicks asked others to also complain to Evans about Abie, saying that “We need to keep these raciest [sic] idealist [sic] out of our school system.” Hicks threatened to call a boycott of the Citizen and its advertisers.
* The other official who complained to Mark Evans about Abie and his blog was disgraced Democratic State Representative Daniel Patterson, who, at this very moment is on the verge of being expelled—at the request of the Democratic Caucus—from the legislature. An independent investigation of Patterson found that Patterson had a history of bullying and threatening colleagues and others and a litany of other misdeeds. In anticipation of his being expelled from the legislature, the legislative leadership took all of Patterson’s privileges away except for limited access to the floor of the House to vote.
The Patterson investigation was triggered by allegations of domestic violence involving his former wife and his current girlfriend against Patterson, a story that Abie broke in Three Sonorans.
Patterson threatened Evans and the Tucson Citizen with a lawsuit if they didn’t “fire” Abie.
In a singular act of cowardice, Evans turned his back on his most productive and prolific blogger and fired Abie, i.e., dropped the Three Sonorans from the array of Citizen bloggers, on the basis of threats by two disgraced public officials. A sad commentary as to whom and what the Tucson Citizen values.
Full disclosure: (1) I was the Faculty Advisor to MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan) for 17 years at the University of Arizona. Both Sean Arce and Abie Morales were active MEChA members/officers whom I was privileged to mentor;
(2) I was a columnist for the hard-copy Tucson Citizen for circa six years. That Tucson Citizen ceased operations and closed down, leaving only the online version managed by Evans.
Do Your Duty and Contact TUSD and the Tucson Citizen:
It is important for TUSD Superintendent Pedicone and the TUSD school board members to hear from people protesting Sean’s firing. Some of you receiving this are not Tucson, or even Arizona, residents, but that’s OK. The MAS-book banning situation has become a national phenomenon, and TUSD should know that people all over the country are following the TUSD MAS situation.
Not hearing from people will be interpreted by TUSD officials as apathy and non-caring and will only strengthen TUSD’s resolve to continue and broaden its war on Mexicans and our children.
There’s sure to be other actions regarding Sean’s situation, but sending supportive (of Sean) e-mails to the TUSD folks with e-mails is a good first start.
I urge you to take a minute and send an e-mail to Superintendent Pedicone and the TUSD school board members expressing your support of Sean (and what he represents)—their contact information is below.
Likewise, Mark Evans, Managing Editor of the Tucson Citizen, needs to hear from us about his dropping Abie’s Three Sonorans blog. I submit that hearing from many credible, upright people should count more than two complaints from disgraced public officials—Mark Evans’ contact information is below.
As I note above, the Constitution and the rights it confers on us are worthless if we do not exercise them. And, frankly, political battles are won by people of conscience taking action, not by people sitting back and waiting for the other person to do it. Indeed, over the years we have won many battles and fights that involved our civil rights…but those battles didn’t win themselves—we won them by taking action!
HERE’S THE LINK TO JEFF BIGGERS’ ARTICLE, RE: SEAN ARCE-ZINN AWARD
HERE’S A LINK TO THE MICHAEL HICKS INTERVIEW ON THE DAILY SHOW:
HERE’S THE LINK TO JEFF BIGGERS’ ARTICLE, RE: CLOSING DOWN 3 SONORANS BLOG
Below is the contact information for TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone and TUSD Board Members:
Superintendent John J. Pedicone, Ph.D.
1010 E. Tenth St. 85719
Dr. Mark Stegeman email@example.com
Michael Hicks firstname.lastname@example.org
Miguel Cuevas email@example.com
Adelita S. Grijalva firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexandre Borges Sugiyama, Ph.D. email@example.com
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