Friday, February 3, 2012

"Banning Books in AZ, Impact on Educating Latinos in the US"

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2012/2/2 Salomón Baldenegro

Estimadas/os: Tucson Unified School District and its Superintendent John Pedicone apparently don’t like uppity Mexicans who dare to exercise their American right of free speech (maybe it’s `cause they don’t see us as bona fide Americans?). Consider the following pattern:

*   On May 3rd, Pedicone had over 100 police officers in riot gear at the school board meeting to assure that supporters of the Mexican American Studies (MAS) curriculum didn’t go crazy with that free-speech nonsense. Pedicone’s crowning achievement that night: he had seven (7) women arrested for the “crime” of wanting to address the school board in support of MAS.

*   Circa January 12-13, TUSD “sentenced” MAS students to perform janitorial duties (which include cleaning toilets) for the “crime” of exercising their first amendment rights by protesting the dismantling of the Mexican American Studies curriculum and the banning of the MAS books. (This is discussed in more detail below.)

*   On January 27, Pedicone sent a letter to Dr. Antonio Estrada, asking Estrada to rein in University of Arizona MAS faculty members who committed the “crime” of exercising their first amendment rights by participating in the recent “Teach-ins.” (That letter is discussed below.)

*   On January 31, Sean Arce, the TUSD MAS Director, was written up for having attended—along with circa 400 invited guests—the January 30 White House Hispanic Community Action Summit and for having committed the “crime” of exercising his first amendment rights by expressing his thoughts in an educational workshop at the Summit.

By way of context: José Rico and Gabriel Sandoval, Executive Director and Senior Advisor, respectively, of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, were at the Summit specifically to discuss educational matters with local educators, parents, students, etc. The Summit was a TUSD-approved activity in that many TUSD teachers/administrators attended, as well as TUSD Superintendent Pedicone, TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman, and TUSD Board member Adelita Grijalva.

Of all the TUSD people invited to and who participated in the Summit, only Sean is being forced to justify his presence there, under threat of being reprimanded.

A Summit workshop led by a TUSD teacher (and attended by several TUSD teachers and top TUSD administrators) focused on the TUSD MAS situation. During the session, Sean—a TUSD PARENT, keep in mind—expressed his thoughts about TUSD’s actions, re: the MAS program, its teachers, and its students and the banning of MAS books.

It is these remarks by Sean that are the basis of his being written up.

Anticipating this action against Sean by TUSD, I put a resolution on the floor, which was passed UNANIMOUSLY by the approximately 150-plus people present, asking—actually, I used the word “demand”—that TUSD not punish Sean for exercising his first-amendment rights in responding to a question put to him in a public forum.

And the U.S Department of Justice representatives at the session that Sean and 150-plus people participated in assured everyone that no retaliation would occur as a result of people’s comments at the session.

However, neither those who voted for the resolution nor President Obama’s representatives know the depth of Pedicone’s hate for Sean and MAS…nor do they know how nasty Pedicone plays, especially when it involves uppity Mexicans.

Prediction: Pedicone and his agents will box Sean in and do a “Gotcha” on him

If Sean says he took a Personal Day to attend the Summit, Pedicone will find a technicality to say he was not approved for a Personal Day and therefore did not have authorization to attend…

If Sean says he was invited to, and attended, the Summit as an educator, Pedicone will use what Sean said at the Summit against him on the basis of…whatever Pedicone conjures up.

But whatever contorted logic Pedicone uses to punish Sean, the fact is that Sean will be punished for having exercised his constitutionally-protected right of free speech.

About the letter TUSD Superintendent Pedicone sent to Antonio Estrada, Director of the University of Arizona Mexican American Studies and Research Center (MASRC):

Pedicone chastises MASRC faculty and asks that they be reined in

In his letter, Pedicone chastises MASRC faculty for having interacted with students at the recent "Teach-ins" at the El Casino facility and in the UA's Chavez building and appeals to Dr. Estrada to consider discussing the matter,

"...with your faculty and encouraging them to support our efforts to keep students at school and not engage in activities that will cause us to take disciplinary action consistent with our policies and procedures."

Pedicone is also pressuring other UA administrators to lean on Dr. Estrada to rein in his faculty.

When we founded the Mexican American Studies program in the 1970s, in addition to its scholarly functions, we intended it to be a bridge between the university and the community. Having MAS faculty interact with students who are engaged meaningfully in their education and who are actively working to improve their educational situation is precisely the kind of bridge the MASRC founders envisioned.

Pedicone’s meddling in the MASRC’s affairs and in effect asking that the MASRC faculty be reined in with regard to their interactions with high-school students should be very troubling to anyone who subscribes to the principles of free speech and academic freedom.

Pedicone’s double standard: MAS students ordered to do janitorial work for missing school…non-MAS students can “ditch school” with impunity…

Superintendent Pedicone’s stated concern for students staying at school and not engaging “…in activities that will cause us to take disciplinary action consistent with our policies and procedures" rings hollow in light of TUSD’s tradition of “Senior Ditch Day,” which allows senior students to ditch school WITH NO PUNISHMENT LEVIED ON THEM. In fact, Senior Ditch Day is not only tolerated by TUSD, it is an accepted tradition that TUSD promotes.

Below is a link to a posting by Abie Morales, aka “Three Sonorans,” juxtaposing TUSD’s actions, re: Senior Ditch Day at Cholla High School on January 11 and the Cholla students who walked out of school on January 12 and walked five (5) miles over a period of two (2) hours to TUSD headquarters to discuss educational matters with TUSD administrators.

(The TUSD Associate Superintendent who met the students told them that if they wanted to study Mexican history they should “go back to Mexico”—@ 13:10-13:21 of the video embedded in the “Three Sonorans” posting.)

Although Abie’s posting focuses on Cholla’s Senior Ditch Day, every TUSD high school has a Senior Ditch Day.

The qualitative difference between Superintendent Pedicone’s and TUSD’s view of students who ditch school for Senior Ditch Day and students who miss school so as to promote an educational program and to participate in learning activities could not be starker:

Students who ditch school for Senior Ditch Day can stay home and sleep all day, go to the movies or the mall, go to a park, play video games, or do whatever they want to do. And they receive no punishment for missing school.

In contrast, the Cholla students who missed school so as to go to TUSD headquarters to express their deep desire to be able to take MAS classes and to be able to study and learn without harassment by the state were punished by being ordered to clean toilets and perform other janitorial duties at Cholla High School on January 21.

On January 19, TUSD rescinded the toilet-cleaning punishment ONLY after TUSD found out that the parents of the students and other community members were going to show up at Cholla on Jan. 21. But the fact that the punishment was levied in the first place is telling, re: TUSD’s attitude toward, their view of, MAS students. (In lieu of cleaning toilets, the students had to attend a “detention [aka “restorative”] conference” for a scolding.)

Pedicone’s contradiction (hypocrisy?) is staggering:

Although I focus above on the Cholla students, Wakefield Middle School MAS students were suspended from school for having missed classes to participate in First Amendment-protected educational activities.

The suspended students were prohibited by TUSD from attending school. So, rather than staying home, they attended classes at a “Teach-in” at the University of Arizona. Pedicone is actually objecting to the students’ being in a learning environment on a school day rather than hanging out at home, or wherever. Incredible!

(Shamed by the students’ desire to learn rather than stay home, TUSD rescinded the suspensions.)

Instead of going around asking that people be punished for exercising their first amendment rights, Pedicone should justify his obviously biased and discriminatory attitude and actions regarding MAS students who miss school to engage in educational activities vis a vis students who ditch school for Senior Ditch Day.




*            *                  &                      7                           &                    *

 Armando Sanchez <> wrote:
Dear Latino Leaders, 


We extend an invitation to all members to participate in our upcoming live web broadcast program scheduled for February 16th.  Flyer below.


We are very concern that the AZ banning movement carries over to other areas of print and electronic media and begin in other parts of the nation.


We acknowledge and thank AztecaMuse for participating on the program.


I am attaching background information on our 501.c.3 nonprofit broadcasting organization.




Armando Sanchez

Exec. Dir.

C 562.652.1169



                          Global Web Broadcasting


We invite you to view and join the Special live web broadcast on our live global broadcast with activist, author and professor Rudy Acuña, PhD on Thursday, February 16, 2011

  View and join the live on-line Q/A discussion with Rodolfo "Rudy" Acuña and guests.


"Banning Books in AZ, Impact on Educating Latinos in the US"


Show guest: Dr. Rodolfo "Rudy" Acuña, PhD @ 6:30 pm (PT)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

6:30 - 8:00 pm (PT)

Live global web broadcast via


Extended agenda for Thursday, February 16, 2012, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm (PT)
Presentations and discussions with guests and viewers


Contact for information:

Armando Sanchez




The Tucson school board outraged the nation when they cancelled the district's high school Mexican American Studies program and forcibly banned a series of books dealing with race.

  The reason? Apparently teaching respect for other cultures amounts to "racial hatred" and is in violation of Arizona's statewide ban against ethnic studies which was passed in conjunction with SB1070.

  Since the news broke, the school board has been catching heat and there is a chance they'll allow the books back in the classroom, but they need to know the whole country is watching.

  Latinos in Tucson make up more than half of the student population and they are fighting back alongside educators and parents.
Arizona has been ground zero for attacks against immigrant and Latino families, creating a hateful environment where it's acceptable to attack Latino youth in a place where they need affirmation - their classrooms.

  Laurie Ignacio (on behalf of the team) writes: "As the daughter of immigrants, one of the most empowering moments of my life was learning about Latino history in school. I learned about our contributions to this country and it instilled in me pride in my family and our collective history as Latinos and Latinas in the US. Tucson's Mexican American Studies program gave Latino students the same sense of dignity and connection to their own history and other students were offered an insight to a community that is a huge part of the local culture but all too often demonized."

  Students in Arizona are fighting to keep these programs in spite of the wave of anti-immigrant hysteria in the state and now they need our help in keeping up the fight.

  - Resources
Tucson students confront loss of their Chicano studies class, LA Times, 1/11/12
Tucson says banished books may return to classrooms,, 1/18/12
Save Ethnic Studies in Arizona, Facebook Page
(For more information:

Armando Sanchez
Exec. Dir.  & Producer
     Global Web Broadcasting
Broadcasting at

Formally Latino Scholastic Achievement Corporation

Upcoming in "National Universal Latino Scholarship e-Application"

Series beginning November 2011: "LIVE Thursday Night College Bound Show"  Understanding financial aid and strategies for winning scholarships

* Live and free on-demand broadcast programs at Global Broadcasting studio at Pan American Bank, Los Angeles, CA is the web site of the Latino Scholastic Achievement Corporation, a 501.c.3 national non-profit organization.   

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

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