A high school teacher in Los Angeles got fired for encouraging her students to be, well, socially engaged. Karen Salazar was accused of teaching a curriculum that was too “Afro-centric”. You see, teaching texts like the Autobiography of Malcolm X is dangerous. Students organizing and mobilizing on the high school campus was apparently too much for stuffed up administrators (and most definitely, their higher ups) to see and deal with, so they do what they usually do in such circumstances: Scapegoat a teacher, because, of course, students themselves are too stupid to do anything on their own, and press down on her. In this case, they’ve decided to fire Ms. Salazar.
No, wait, it wasn’t that the curriculum was too “Afro-centric” after all — the materials, apparently, were appropriate. It’s just that her teaching style crossed the line into advocacy. You see, when someone encourages you to change the conditions in society that produce inequality and injustice, that’s inappropriate. Ms. Salazar quotes Paulo Freire, she says one should practice “education as the practice of freedom.” In a democratic country, where education is supposed to be a pillar of freedom, that would be all right. But in countries which pass themselves as democracies but practice so many dispersed forms of tyranny, education needs to be the brainwashing of students to toe the line.
And by firing Karen Salazar, that’s precisely what these administrators are trying to enforce. It’s not that she teaches Malcolm X and Tupac, or that she quotes Freire. It’s that students are organizing and mobilizing, learning to work together in cooperative and collective frameworks to challenge authority and change things for the better. And that’s too much.
Learn more about the struggle of the students to have Ms. Salazar reinstated — including videos of their mass actions — here: http://savesalazar.pbwiki.com/