FW: Teachers fired for using "Teaching Tolerance" curriculum

Melissa Ponder (mponder@edcc.ctc.edu)
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 09:33:10 -0800

>>** Topic: Teachers Suspended for Teaching Racial Tolerance [New Mex] **
>>** Written 9:56 AM Mar 13, 1997 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
>>/* Written 4:18 PM Mar 10, 1997 by ejdesk@igc.org in justice.comm */
>>/* ---------- "UPDATE ON VAUGHN, NEW MEXICO BAN ON" ---------- */
>>From: SouthWest Organizing Project <swop@igc.apc.org>
>>)From Albuquerque Journal, March 7, 1997
>>Teachers Suspended for Curriculum Changes
>>Vaughn Sisters Taught Kids About Racial Tolerance
>>By Valerie Santillanes, Journal Staff Writer
>>The Vaughn Municipal Schools superintendent has suspended two teachers
>>using materials in their classrooms that deviate from a traditional
>>arts curriculum.
>>Sisters Patsy and Nadine Cordova were told earlier this year to stop
>>teaching language arts students about Cesar Chavez and Chicano history
>>return to a traditional curriculum. They complied with the order but
>>recently introduced new material on racial and religious tolerance and
>>suspended with pay Feb. 28.
>>Superintendent Arthur Martinez also informed the teachers by letter that
>>intends to recommend to the Vaughn Board of Education that they be fired
>>"I've been living in a state of disbelief since August," Patsy Cordova
>>Thursday. "I keep expecting them to say, 'Wait, this is too much.' But
>>they surprise us again."
>>Student Naomi Chavez, 13, said she and most of her classmates enjoyed
>>Cordovas' lessons and miss their teachers.
>>"It's been hard on all of us," Chavez said. "The students are taking it
>>hard. A lot of us cried when we found out (about the suspensions). It's
>>really disrupted our school."
>>Neither Martinez nor the school district's attorney could be reached for
>>comment Thursday. Last month, Martinez gave the board his letter of
>>resignation, effective in June. He has said his resignation is unrelated
>>the controversy.
>>The Cordovas are longtime teachers and residents of Vaughn, a community
>>about 700 people about 100 miles southeast of Albuquerque. The teachers
>>several run-ins with Martinez this school year because of their use of
>>Chicano-oriented literature, news stories and art in their language arts
>>"Skills for Living" classes. The district purchased the textbooks and
>>video series the Cordovas used and to which Martinez later objected.
>>The teachers also sponsored a MEChA club, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano
>>Aztlan, a leadership organization for Hispanic youth, which Martinez
>>initially supported and to which 23 of the district's 68 middle and high
>>school students belonged during the club's short-lived tenure, from
>>to November.
>>Beginning in September, Martinez withdrew his support for the club and
>>the Cordovas the school district "will not sanction in any way the
>>and goals of the MEChA organization. Therefore there should not be any
>>instruction nor activity that reflects during the school day (the MEChA
>>In January, Martinez issued a written order to the Cordovas to stop
>using a
>>textbook called "500 Years of Chicano History" and to "discontinue any
>>further study" of the farm workers movement and the late Cesar Chavez.
>>The Cordovas complied but contacted the American Civil Liberties Union,
>>which retained attorneys for the teachers. The attorneys say they likely
>>will file a lawsuit against the school district.
>>Vaughn Municipal Schools officials have refused to discuss the issue but
>>getting support from some residents, who argue that the teachers'
>>promoted racism.
>>The Cordovas said that after five weeks of using the traditional
>>they began looking for an alternative because their students were bored.
>>"Our kids were just not responding to the standard textbook," Nadine
>>Last week, they introduced a curriculum called "Teaching Tolerance,"
>>is distributed free to schools by the Southern Poverty Law Center in
>>Alabama, a nonprofit legal and education foundation.
>>The program includes reading material on instances of racial and
>>intolerance in the United States from the 1660s to the 1990s.
>>The Cordovas informed Martinez of their intent to use the materials,
>>supplied him with examples and gave their students the option of
>>with the traditional curriculum. The Cordovas say four of their more
>than 50
>>students chose to stay with the traditional curriculum.
>>"This didn't have anything to do with Cesar Chavez or Chicano studies,"
>>Patsy Cordova said. "It's about tolerance, and the kids loved it."
>>After using the instructional materials for five days, the teachers were
>>suspended. In his "Notice of Intent to Discharge," Martinez states the
>>Cordovas "sought to undermine the curriculum prescribed" to them and
>>they ridiculed the traditional curriculum at school in front of students
>>staff, encouraged students to lobby against the traditional curriculum
>>ridiculed Martinez by calling him "Smurf."
>>The Cordovas deny those allegations. The board of education will hold a
>>discharge hearing for the teachers within the next 40 days.
>>"All I know is that I have done nothing to deserve losing my job," Patsy
>>Cordova said. "But I believe that when all this is over, it will change
>>things in Vaughn for the better."
>>** End of text from cdp:headlines **
>>This material came from PeaceNet, a non-profit progressive networking
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> "Poetry like bread / Is for everyone." -- Roque
Melissa S.K. Ponder
NW Center for Equity and Diversity
20000 68th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98036

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