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Democracy Now June 18 - 2008

Page history last edited by Jeff Ecc 15 years, 10 months ago

source:  http://www.democracynow.org/2008/6/18/la_school_teacher_fired_for_being


LA School Teacher Fired For Being Too “Afrocentric”; Arizona Bill Proposes to Prohibit Teachings Critical of Western Civilization

We look at two cases of free speech in the classroon: Karen Salazar speaks out about her dismissal from the Los Angeles School District. Historian Rodolfo Acuna discusses the Arizona bill that would ban schools from using some books including Acuna’s “Occupied America: a History of Chicanos.”


We turn now to two stories about the state of public education in this country.

Protests in support of dismissed Los Angeles School District high school teacher Karen Salazar have increased this week. Salazar is a second-year English teacher at Jordan High School in Watts. Last month she was told her contract would not be renewed because she was “presenting a biased view of the curriculum” and “indoctrinating her students with Afrocentrism.” Her course material included board-approved texts like the writings of Malcolm X and Langston Hughes.

Jordan High School officials refused to comment when we contacted them and said the issue was an internal matter relating to personnel.

But the case of Karen Salazar is not unique.

In 2006, Jay Bennish, a high school teacher from Aurora, Colorado was briefly dismissed because one of his lectures was deemed “anti-American.” On the eve of the iraq war in 2003, Deborah Mayer, an Indiana school teacher was fired after telling her class “I honk for peace.” A federal appeals court in Chicago upheld the school"s decision last year and ruled that public school teachers do not have the constitutional right to express personal opinions in the classroom.

We will also look at another story that could have a chilling effect on education in Arizona public schools.

A legislative panel in Arizona endorsed a proposal in April that would cut state funding for public schools whose courses “denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization.” The measure would also prohibit students of state-funded universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members.

Critics say the bill would essentially destroy the states’ Mexican American or Chicano studies programs as well as student groups such as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan or Mecha.

We’re joined now by two guests. Professor Rodolfo Acuna is is professor emeritus at California State University, Northridge–where he started the largest Chicano studies program in the country. He"s been a social activist for 50 years and the author of over 21 books including “Occupied America: A history of Chicanos.” This book is one of many that would no longer be taught in Arizona public schools if the controversial bill passes.

We’re also joined from Los Angeles by dismissed high school teacher Karen Salazar.

Karen Salazar, Dismissed teacher from Jordan High School in Watts, Los Angeles.

Rodolfo Acuna, Professor emeritus of Chicano Studies at California State University at Northridge. He is the author of 21 books including “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” and has been a social activist for 50 years.

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