Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Author of TUSD-banned "Occupied America" Speaks Out

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Rodolfo Acuña, Chicano activist, professor and author of TUSD-banned Occupied America, recently published an essay on the political blog Counter Punch in response to a paper he received by Tucson Unified School District's Augustine Romero, now charged with developing TUSD yet-to-be unveiled multicultural curriculum.

You can read Acuña's essay in it's entirety here, but here's a snippet:

When anything titled a “white paper” comes across my email, I usually ignore it. Why is truth always called “white”? Why not brown, yellow or black? Is it because black is considered negative, i.e., Black Friday, black as sin, Halloween, or death whereas white is the color of god and goodness?

Sowhen I received a paper titled “White Paper: Cultural Responsive Pedagogy,” I only read it because it was authored by Dr. Augustine Romero, the director of Tucson Unified School District's department of student equity. Romero is charged with putting Humpty Dumpty together again—i.e., the Ethnic Studies program that the TUSD school board smashed to bits. (Humpty Dumpty refers to a large canon used during the 17th Century English Civil war).

Romero is a controversial figure and many of his former colleagues refuse to talk to him. They see Romero’s decision to stay in his administrative post with the District as a defection because, according to them, it gives the destruction of Mexican American Studies legitimacy. As proof they point to the pattern common in institutions of higher learning that destroy ethnic studies programs, and then remake them in their own image.

Although informative, the paper came across as an apologia. Romero says that MAS was a highly successful, well-constructed program, not shying away from the fact that it was destroyed at the behest of the Arizona Attorney General and Superintendent of Schools, a decision that was solely based on politics — pedagogy played no role.

Clearly Romero is conflicted.

In reading the paper I found myself agreeing with Romero as to pedagogy; the paper would have been highly appropriate in an academic setting. However, the paper never explains why he absolves the District and joins a corrupt group. Romero says that the District is in the midst of “its second attempt to obtain unitary status in its federal segregation case,” adding that the District does not understand how “to make schools more effective and joyous places for all students.” He concedes that the TUSD destroyed an “effective and special” program.”

What is disturbing is Romero’s lack of context, which is necessary for most professionals to understand what is happening in Tucson. The truth be told, most progressive educators view Romero as a champion and advocate for MAS, a fighter for its integrity. Witness his multiple YouTube presentations.

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