Image Courtesy of Crip - FLICKR
Ever since I heard the news about a law in Arizona prohibiting the teaching of ethnic studies courses in public schools, and banning one of the books we sell (Rethinking Columbus), I’ve been wondering what it was like to be a teacher there. What did enforcement of this new law look like? How were the students reacting? This morning I received this email from Curtis Acosta, who now teaches English (formerly taught Latino Literature) at Tucson High School. His message is heartbreaking and frightening. I asked Mr. Acosta’s permission to share his message with Tikkun Daily’s readers. He agreed.
The question that I’d like us to answer is this: What do we do about it? At the end of his letter, I’ll provide context about the law that is at the root of this situation and ask that question again. What do we do?
As a Jew in the pew for the last two decades, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good sense of what being “Christian” means. Most of that experience has been gained in the midst of a particular group of Christians who believe that their actions, the way they live their lives, speak much louder than any words. But it is also a church where the pastors follow the lectionary most Sundays, meaning that those gathered are hearing exactly the same scripture readings from the Bible that most other Christians are hearing on those same Sundays. Frankly, from my two decades of listening to those passages, the message is pretty clear to this possibly distant relative of a nice Jewish boy from Nazareth. To be a Christian means that you are called to follow “the way” that Jesus lived. Feed the poor, clothe the naked, love thy neighbor…. and they’ll know you are Christian by your love by your love.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1909
Children have been told horror stories for as long as storytelling has existed. Should a child become traumatized hearing a story like Hansel and Gretel, where the witch plans to throw the children into the oven to make a nice meal, parents can tell the child not to worry, “That’s just a fairy tale. Things like that don’t really happen.” But they do.
by: Craig Wiesner on January 18th, 2012 | Comments Off
Sometimes in the midst of the mundane or the profane of the day, I find myself musing about the meaning of it all. My friend Rev. Jim Burklo just sent along his latest musing, and while it doesn’t answer all the questions about life, the universe, and everything, it did bring a smile to my face and some peace to my morning. May it do some of the same for you too. Read on!
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, it was a courageous thing to do, but someone was already here... Something you'd know, unless you live in Tucson in 2012
It’s Martin Luther King Day and we should all be thinking about progress we’ve made on King’s dream. Well… this morning I woke up to more of a bit of a sad vision of at least one part of America. My friend Nancy Schimmel sent me a note this morning to let me know that Tucson, Arizona, in order to avoid losing lots of money in state school funding, has ordered certain books to be banned from classrooms in order to be in compliance with the state’s new “ethnic cleansing” rules (my phrase for what they refer to as the elimination of ethnic studies).
According to Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools (at Salon.com), “By ordering teachers to remove ‘Rethinking Columbus,’ the Tucson school district has shown tremendous disrespect for teachers and students.” “This is a book that has sold over 300,000 copies and is used in school districts from Anchorage to Atlanta, and from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. It offers teaching strategies and readings that teachers can use to help students think about the perspectives that are too often silenced in the traditional curriculum.”
My company, Reach And Teach, has sold many copies of Rethinking Columbus. The thought that this book, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” are being banned from Tucson schools boggles my mind.
When I first heard about Congress adding a provision to a Defense Authorization bill that would allow for the U.S. MILITARY to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, without trial, just for being suspected of supporting anyone who was “engaged in hostilities against the United States,” I assumed it was just the work of some whacky right-winger who knew that the language didn’t have a chance of surviving the first round of mark-ups in conference committee. When the Senate and House overwhelmingly voted for the bill, with the President signing it in the dead of night when no one was looking, it struck me that something very strange was happening, and so far, no one has offered a serious explanation of why this bill came to be and is now law.
From my friend the Rev. Jim Burklo, of the Center for Progressive Christianity, a musing.
Press Release: The Virgin of Guadalupe Speaks
For immediate release
At a press conference in Los Angeles, CA, La Virgen de Guadalupe, on the 480th anniversary of her apparition in Mexico, suddenly appeared, held up on a crescent by a little cherubic angel. With brilliant effulgence surrounding her, she declared her independence from the Catholic Church specifically and from the Christian religion as a whole. “I belong to all humanity,” she declared. “No exceptions!”
Our friend Rev. Jim Burklo (Center for Progressive Christianity) just visited the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His visit is chronicled in this latest musing that I found fascinating and wonderful, especially what happened at the very end… (read on).
by: Craig Wiesner on October 27th, 2011 | Comments Off
We just heard from a colleague who was arrested in Oakland for…. assembling. While he was getting arrested we were having dinner with friends, one of whom said that he wished there were a simple, clear message coming from the 99%. Well, this morning, our friend Jim Burklo (The Center for Progressive Christianity) wrote one of his “musings” and in it he had a short and sweet message:
Protect the poor and middle-class with a strong public “safety net”, take strong action to protect the environment, raise taxes on the rich and cut military spending to balance the federal budget, and rationalize regulations so that private enterprise will thrive on a more level playing field.
Want more? Read on!
Creative Commons / Douglas606
After five years of being held captive, Gilad Shalit was returned to Israel in exchange for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit (cousin of former Tikkun editor Joel Schalit) was kidnapped by Hamas when he was just 19 years old. There is certainly much to discuss about the Israeli government’s decision to make this deal, and the impact it will have on the future. For now, I am grateful that Shalit is home, safe, and my prayers are with him as he begins what is sure to be a long journey of healing. My prayers are also with the Palestinians released from prison, their families, and for their journey going forward. May this be a moment that begins healing for all sides that could lead to a lasting, just, peace.
Check out more on the story from the Washington Post (click here).