Banned Books 2013 and Lessons for TUSD from Zapata: Pedicone’s Posse of Peter’s Principle Pendejos Prevail

“It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

-Emiliano Zapata

Emiliano-Zapata
This week we celebrated the birthday of Emiliano Zapata, a figure in Mexican history that we can learn a lot from, which may resume in TUSD after the ban of Mexican American History gets lifted.

A hundred years after Zapata’s birth, his legacy would be honored by the naming of the new Zapatista movement created in opposition to NAFTA which began on January 1st, 1994. The current immigration crisis can mark this date as a starting point; while immigration has always existed, it would take a new form under Democratic Presidents and NAFTA, Operation Gatekeeper and Obama’s record deportation of immigrants and children.

Those who understand the underbelly of Capitalism were preparing for what was coming, as American agri-corporations began taking over all the farmlands in Mexico due to the illegal subsidizing of corn, leading to independent farmers now having to cross the border in El Norte to seek work by working in farms not owned by them, but by Democrats such as Arizona’s 2010 US Senate candidate Rodney Glassman’s Fresno agri-business empire who was endorsed by the Chicano Democratic establishment (some now members of the TUSD school board) in exchange for political contributions; choosing the rich farmer over the farmworker organizer.

Never underestimate the power of money to make the brown candidate follow the green.

Such was the case with the new TUSD Superintendent HT Sanchez, who was telling Tucsonans at his public forums that “God brought him here” and that this is God’s mission for him. Then the Odessa American newspaper from his hometown reveals that instead of following God, it may have been that Green Cash he was following with a compensation plan that is over $300,000 a year.

Candidates say they are following God, but the smart person knows that to find the true answers you must follow the money.

If you want a clear example of how the selling-out process works, we offer the story of those involved with the dismantling of the Mexican American Studies program.

The first thing the smart (or sinister) John Pedicone did was to create a Latino buffer between himself and the Mexican American Studies program. He appointed Texan Dr. Lupita Garcia to supervise the program despite objections from the Latino community. Dr. Garcia was opposed to MAS, MEChA and thought LULAC was a radical organization; putting her in charge of supervising MAS was like George Bush’s appointment of UN-basher John Bolton as United Nations ambassador.

Within a year, the program would be gone.

It began with banning of MAS, but to show how much Pedicone and his Posse hated these Latinos, he also banned the books and even the Calendario from the classroom. Both Tom Horne and John Huppenthal were questioned about this and Huppenthal said that it was not the state banning books but TUSD, and Tom Horne said that the Aztec Calendar did not need to be taken down.

Banning of other books went further with yet another Latino, Dr. Abel Morado who told Curtis Acosta that he could not teach Shakespeare’s The Tempest anymore because it dealt with issues of “race, class or oppression.” What do you expect from a book about a European man going to the New World and taking slaves on an island? Thus Shakespeare was banned, not by the state, but by TUSD and Pedicone’s Posse of highly-paid Latino Administrators.

But there was the issue of the Federal Desegregation Order that would require some form of “culturally relevant” courses that had a Mexican American perspective to be taught.

Rather than keep all the people around that created the program, Chicano scholars who were Mechistas during the Zapatista uprising and who understood the significance of our indigenous roots, Pedicone fired the MAS director and put the former McCain intern who said of the MAS classes “who gives a fuck about the Aztecs” in charge of creating these federal court mandated courses.

The man who said he would never compromise on this issue, compromised, and is now compromising with Huppenthal and the state in exchange for a fat paycheck.

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Pedicone’s Posse of Peter’s Principle Pendejos

We have already met two Latino Ph.D.s in TUSD that helped with the dismantling of MAS. Now meet the embodiment of Peter’s Principle; Dr. Augustine Romero.

Peter’s Principle states that in a hierarchical institution people will “rise to their level of incompetence.” This can be seen as people start at the bottom and start rising up, but soon reaching a point were they are not able to rise anymore because of their incompetence. Unfortunately though, this means they are currently in a position that they are not qualified for, but now stuck there. Thus these institutions are run by people who are a level too high for their abilities, and all the work will be done by underlings, themselves on the path to rising to their own level of incompetence.

But don’t take my word for it.

In January 2012, just after MAS classes were banned, the brave Auggie Romero said in a Zapata-like style to the Arizona Daily Star of the MAS classes:

These imperatives are not optional or negotiable. Our naysayers and those on the fence may want a compromise.

However, would it be the same if it were their children who were standing at the doorstep of intellectual death? For most, such circumstances would change everything!

Moreover, we are not willing to negotiate or compromise, because we’ve done nothing wrong.

To date, neither the state nor the district has provided the public with any evidence that we have erred in any way.

In fact, the most unbiased entity involved in this political gamesmanship, the state-hired independent auditors, Cambium Group, found after extensive study that we did not violate any provision of Arizona law.

On the contrary, it lauded our program for its ability to close the achievement gap. Our program and its educational theory are uncontested in their ability to create an educational environment that nurtures and fosters the intellectual capacity of students.

We know justice is on our side.

Remember, when Dr. Romero speaks of “our program” he is speaking of the just-banned MAS program. He says that NO COMPROMISE will happen, at least not by him, “because we’ve done nothing wrong.”

Then rumors starting coming out in March and April about Pedicone’s latest Peter’s Principle Plan; to fire Sean Arce and put Auggie Romero, someone with no curriculum creation experience, in charge of creating the new curriculum!


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Surely the Grijalvistas who run the town and the school board will not hold him accountable, for to criticize one of their own is to criticize their own level of incompetence.

Indeed, the rumors were true, and noticeably absent from the hectic April 10th, 2012 TUSD board meeting to fire Sean Arce, a meeting that had three hours of public call to the audience with 100% in support of Arce, was none other than Auggie Romero. Board member Miguel Cuevas let it slip that they already made a deal with Romero to replace Arce.

From the Arizona Daily Star in June 2012:

When TUSD board members voted to suspend Mexican American Studies courses, they vowed to incorporate more multicultural curriculum into all subject areas.

The man overseeing that effort as of July 1 will be Augustine Romero – one of the founders of TUSD’s MAS program, which for years has been under fire by the state.

Once again Three Sonorans was right about the plan, but people never believe our theories which are based on simple economics and following the money.

Notice that Dr. Romero took over the job of creating multicultural curriculum on July 1, 2012, OVER A YEAR AGO!

That has been a big disaster, and so far the deadlines stated in the federal court order have all been missed. First of all, TUSD put Romero in charge of creating three different curriculums, not just one, even though the court order calls for a separate director, and these classes were supposed to be offered at ALL high schools this Fall (FAIL), and only Literature classes are being offered at three high schools.

This is one-third of one-third of one-third of the job completed, less than 5%! But don’t let that stop the Auggie’s buddies on the board from praising him, saying he did so much in only four months!

Four months?

He was appointed to this task in July of 2012! What does he have to show for it, just four months worth of not even a half-assed job?

I say this not to be personal, but seriously. We are talking about federal court orders here, racism, segregation, the education of Latino students and justice. Now Romero is in over his head, but he is getting paid a lot to be a failure, which seems to have been Pedicone’s plan all along.

To demonstrate that Peter’s Principle really is at work in the creation of these classes, ignoring the obvious fact that the creators of these classes, the MAS teachers, are not even involved and as of Fall 2013, yet another teacher is gone, the much-loved Curtis Acosta who helped make Latino Literature what it was but is no more, we just have to look at the recent superintendent search which was filled with Peter’s Principle at play.

Insiders say that after the last school board election, Dr. Romero had the three votes he needed to be the next superintendent, and he was going around bragging about that. Actually, this might have been progress for these classes in that at least someone with curriculum experience could take over the failed job his was overseeing.

With a Ph.D. and Superintendent Certification, Dr. Romero certainly has the prerequisites necessary, and he has a long enough connection to the community to understand the history of racism, perhaps, and thus maybe take a Zapatista-like lead as superintendent, the man standing up for Latinos.

Instead, it seems all that remains is Romero living on his knees, bending over to the will of Huppenthal, also from Tucson and whose brothers “used to beat up Auggie all the time” in high school wrestling.

It seems some things never change.

Putting in his application yet again to run TUSD, his own crew, people he has been loyal to, once again disregarded him. Put simply, Dr. Romero is not qualified to be superintendent and he has already risen to his level of incompetence and messing everything up in his current job.

But don’t take my word for it. From today’s ADS regarding the superintendent search:

“We went through a vetting process, and there were a small number of people we were interested in interviewing,” Grijalva said. “It’s not a reflection on whether someone in the district could do the job, but did people internally apply for the position.”

Grijalva feels the district needs to work on growing its own leaders.

We don’t do as good of a job as we should in preparing people to take over other positions,” she said. “That’s been true for many years. There needs to be a focus on helping people that are interested in moving forward.”

By Dr. Romero’s second application for this position, it should be clear that he is “interested in moving forward” but apparently he is not prepared to take over this position.

It’s not just the application that is evidence of this ambition, but they should all know because they know Romero personally. He’s one of their own, and has walked countless times for them and their crew.

But by Romero’s royal fuck-up with the creation of the new classes, Romero has risen to his level of incompetence, and sadly for Latino students, he is stuck there. Insiders did say he was interested in leaving TUSD after his homies slighted him on the superintendent’s position, but where else can you get paid so much for doing so little?

On another note, it appears that the person to blame for banned books, according to the new superintendent, is Auggie Romero.

During a recent interview with the Midvale Park Neighborhood Association, Superintendent HT Sanchez was asked about the banned books, and his response puts the blame and responsibility clearly on Auggie Romero.

HT said that all it takes for a book to be allowed is for it to be put into the curriculum so that the board can approve it, which includes so-called “banned books.”

Thus the reason Rudy Acuña’s Occupied America is no longer being used in TUSD is not the fault of Tom Horne, nor is it the fault of John Huppenthal or John Pedicone. It is the fault of the person who created the curriculum.

But don’t take my word for it.

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