3.1.12 – No History Is Illegal Campaign Wraps Up

Dear NYCoRE Members,

As we wrap up our month-long campaign, No History Is Illegal, we can count more than 11,500 people who visited the campaign website, and nearly 1,500 people across five continents who pledged their support. These include many amazing stories of solidarity, such as:

At Roosevelt High School in LA, students painted a mural depicting UNIDOS students fighting for ethnic studies.

At Yale University, Mexican American Studies students organized a Skype Teach-In.

And, at Knox College in Illinois, students in a Historian’s Workshop opened their class discussion on these issues to invited guests—friends, prospective teachers, and professors—and ended by writing letters to students and teachers in Tucson.

Support for Tucson teachers and students continues to grow. Most recently, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) released a statement on the suspension of Mexican American Studies in Tucson, “…the AERA Council emphasizes the substantial body of research that reveals that such courses improve critical thinking and reduce stereotyping and bias among students. Characterizing the legislation as educationally indefensible, AERA urges the Arizona State Legislature to repeal HB2281.”

Rethinking Schools posted a preview of their Spring editorial, which acknowledges the ridiculousness of banned books but focuses on the heart of the issue, saying, “Many commentators focused on the outrageous act of banning books. But the books were merely collateral damage. The real target was Tucson’s acclaimed Mexican American Studies program, whose elimination had long been a goal of rightwing politicians in Arizona.”

Of course, the struggle does not end with the month of February. If you are looking for ways to stay with the campaign and support the teachers and students in Tucson, consider organizing a screening of Precious Knowledge in your community. And watch the premiere of Precious Knowledge on PBS May 17.

You can also join or support Librotraficantes, the caravan to smuggle banned books into Tucson. This group will be traveling from Houston, Texas to Tucson March 12 to 18 carrying ‘contraband’ books and creating a network of underground libraries.

The blog Banning History is collecting video testimony of people reading passages from the banned books.

We continue to encourage you to tell the story of how you shared the struggle of Tucson in your classroom by writing a testimonial on the No History Is Illegal website. You can also directly support the teachers in Tucson by making a donation to the Save Ethnic Studies legal defense fund.

Thank you for being part of this amazing act of solidarity.

In Solidarity,

Teacher Activist Groups
(Association of Raza Educators, Education for Liberation Network, Educators’ Network for Social Justice, Metro Atlantans for Public Schools, New York Collective of Radical Educators, Rethinking Schools, Teacher Action Group Philadelphia, Teacher Activist Group Boston, Teachers 4 Social Justice San Francisco, Teachers for Social Justice Chicago)

 

Occupy the PEP this Thursday! Ways to participate!

IT’S TIME TO OCCUPY THE PEP

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH, 5:30PM

Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Pl (between Fulton and Dekalb) in Brooklyn

Near the Nevins 2/3/4/5 or the Dekalb B/D/N/Q/R

 

Background

On Thursday, February 9th, the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will hold an open meeting and then a vote to close down dozens more schools. The PEP is an un-elected 13-member body (the majority of whom are appointed by Mayor 1% Bloomberg) whose decisions dramatically affect the lives of the 99%. Every time a vote for school closings has come before the panel, they have voted on behalf of their puppeteer, Mayor Bloomberg. No matter what impassioned students, parents, educators or elected officials have said in the past, the PEP has ALWAYS voted against the people. PEP meetings are open to the public.

We, students, parents and educators from the 99%, invite you to join us in having our OUR OWN VOTE on the fate of our schools.

If you don’t believe Mayor 1%’s puppet board should be empowered to make decisions about our schools, come help us OPEN THE MEETING UP! In October, the panel walked out of their meeting and we held our own meeting. Click here to see how it went down. Now, let’s do it with thousands!

Ways YOU can Occupy the PEP:

Option A: Are you a student, parent, educator or elected official from a school that the PEP has targeted for closure? Members of your school community should plan to use THE PEOPLE’S MIC to speak out about the mayor’s policies and about your school! To see how the people’s mic works, click here.

  • EXAMPLE: I am here because the panel shouldn’t be voting without the community’s consent to close down schools. In my school…
  • EXAMPLE: I am here because the mayor has it all wrong, and because he wants to take over space in our public schools to hand it over to charter schools. Our school is an amazing community…
  • EXAMPLE: I am here because what is happening here is wrong! Because the people have spoken and they say enough is enough!…

Or you can plan a song, performance, or skit. Every school that the PEP plans to vote on will have a chance to speak out and use the people’s mic. Please practice! The people’s mic can be tricky and you have to speak in short phrases of three to seven words and wait for people to respond. But it’s a powerful tool that can change the balance of power in the room! Let’s use it!

Then the PEOPLE (not the puppet panel) will vote on the state of your school!

Option B: Not from a closing school? Well then we need your help to support the occupation of this undemocratic meeting! There are definitely ways you can participate. We need your voice to help amplify the voices of those speaking on behalf of their schools. We also need folks to sit near the aisle to protect the people’s mic. And we’re asking folks to wear shirts or stickers that identify who the occupiers are and what we stand for. For example, you might consider wearing a shirt or sticker that says “Student Against School Closings” or “Parent for Community Control of Schools”, etc. There will be speeches, performances, skits, signs to hold, and more! Join us.

Please contact occupythedoe@gmail.com with any questions. Let’s open up the PEP and put the decision making power where it belongs—with the people!

No History is Illegal! A Month of Solidarity with Tucson’s MAS Program

A call for solidarity from the national network of Teacher Activist Groups (TAG)

NYCoRE is a proud organizational participant in TAG

They say shut it down. We say spread it around!

 

As a network of Teacher Activist Groups (TAG), we believe that education is essential to the preservation of civil and human rights and is a tool for human liberation. In alignment with these beliefs, TAG is proud to coordinate No History is Illegal, a month of solidarity work in support of Tucson’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program. In January, 2011, state attorney general Tom Horne declared the Tucson Unified School District MAS program illegal. Over the past year, teachers, students and administrators have come together to challenge Horne’s ruling, but on January 10, 2012, the TUSD school board voted 4-1 to cease all MAS classes immediately for fear of losing state aid.

In the month of February we invite you to strike back against this attack on our history by teaching lessons from and about the banned MAS program. On the website (http://www.teacheractivistgroups.org/tucson/) you will find a guide that includes sample lesson plans from the MAS curriculum as well as creative ideas and resources for exploring this issue with students. Whatever happens in Arizona, we can keep the ideas and values of MAS alive by teaching about them in our classrooms, our community centers, our houses of worship, our homes.

February 1 is the first day on which TUSD must comply with this law. It is also the first day of African American History Month. And as Dr. King warned us, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” What is happening in Arizona is not only a threat to Mexican American Studies, it is a threat to our right to teach the experiences of all people of color, LGBT people, poor and working people, the undocumented, people with disabilities and all those who are least powerful in this country.

Our history is not illegal. Please join us by pledging to teach MAS.

Resources:

Flier: NoHistoryIsIllegal_Flier

For curricular resources go to:
http://www.teacheractivistgroups.org/tucson/