Award-Winning Mexican American Studies Director Fired Amid Protests
Published on May 9, 2012 in Indian Country

By ICTMN Staff

After being called “one of the most influential educators in the 20th century” by the Zinn Education Project, Sean Arce, director of the Tucson Unified School District’s banned Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, was fired.

On April 2, Arce was named the recipient of the 2012 Myles Horton Education Award for Teaching People’s History, an award given to honor “those who promote democracy through education by ensuring that students have the knowledge and skills to be informed and active participants in their communities, country, and the world,” says the Zinn Education Project website.

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TUSD dropping its director of Mexican American Studies
Published on April 4, 2012 in Arizona Daily Star

By Alexis Huicochea | Photo by Benjie Sanders

The Tucson Unified School District will not be renewing the contract for Sean Arce, the director of its Mexican American Studies program.

TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone would not comment on why the decision was made, saying only that the Governing Board was “not willing to renew his contract for a number of reasons.”

National award granted

The news of the change in leadership comes as Arce is being honored by a national education group for his work.

The Zinn Education Project selected Arce to receive the 2012 Myles Horton Award for Teaching People’s History.

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Arizona Teacher Embodies Educational Spirit of Howard Zinn
Published on April 3, 2012 in Common Dreams

Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce Wins National Zinn Education Award

By Jeff Biggers

While the Daily Show brilliantly reminded millions of viewers last night of the disgraceful racist elements behind the attack on Tucson’s acclaimed and now outlawed Mexican American Studies program, educators across the nation recalled a teaching moment. Sean Arce was director of the now outlawed Mexican American Studies program in Tuscon.

Over a half century ago, facing a similar segregationist campaign to shut down the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, famous for its pioneering desegregation and civil rights efforts, folk school co-founder Myles Horton informed his rabid foes: “A school is an idea, and you can’t padlock an idea.”

Continue reading at Common Dreams »

Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce Wins National Zinn Education Award
Published on April 3, 2012 in Huffington Post

By Jeff Biggers

While the Daily Show brilliantly reminded millions of viewers last night of the disgraceful racist elements behind the attack on Tucson’s acclaimed and now outlawed Mexican American Studies program, educators across the nation recalled a teaching moment.

Over a half century ago, facing a similar segregationist campaign to shut down the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, famous for its pioneering desegregation and civil rights efforts, folk school co-founder Myles Horton informed his rabid foes: “A school is an idea, and you can’t padlock an idea.”

Invoking Horton’s towering legacy today, the Zinn Education Project bestowed its national Myles Horton Education Award on embattled Mexican American Studies director Sean Arce for his leadership role in “one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the U.S.”

Continue reading at Huffington Post »

National Zinn Education Award Given to Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce
Published on April 2, 2012 in Alternet

By Jeff Biggers

In honor of embattled Mexican American Studies director Sean Arce’s leadership role in “one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the U.S.,” the Zinn Education Project announced its selection of Tucson’s beloved educator as the inaugural recipient of the 2012 Myles Horton Education Award for Teaching People’s History.

“Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program gets it absolutely right: Ground the curriculum in students’ lives, teach about what matters in the world, respect students as intellectuals, and help students imagine themselves as promoters of justice,” Zinn Education Project co-director Bill Bigelow said in the press release. “I’m thrilled that the Zinn Education Project is able to honor the work of Sean Arce by recognizing him with the first Myles Horton Award for Teaching People’s History. Mr. Arce has begun work that we hope will be emulated by school districts throughout the United States.”

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The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools
Published on March 15, 2012 in Common Dreams

By Bill Bigelow

Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.What is not often taught in schools or known by the many who routinely celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, is that throughout the Irish ‘Potato famine’ there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad.

Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Continue reading at Common Dreams »

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools
Published on March 14, 2012 in Huffington Post

By Bill Bigelow

“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Continue reading at Huffington Post »

Who’s Afraid of “The Tempest”?: Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies proscribes Mexican-American history, local authors, even Shakespeare.
Published on January 13, 2012 in Salon.com

By Jeff Biggers

As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies  program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today.  According to district spokeperson Cara Rene, the books “will be cleared from all classrooms, boxed up and sent to the Textbook Depository for storage.”

Facing a multimillion-dollar penalty in state funds, the governing board of Tucson’s largest school district officially ended the 13-year-old program on Tuesday in an attempt to come into compliance with the controversial state ban on the teaching of ethnic studies.

The list of removed books includes the 20-year-old textbook “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” which features an essay by Tucson author Leslie Silko.  Recipient of a Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award and a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, Silko has been an outspoken supporter of the ethnic studies program.

Continue reading at Salon.com »