Journal of Educational Controversy


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trial Date Set: Latest Action on the Banning of Mexican American Studies in Tucson, Arizona

Editor: We have been following the events following the banning of the Mexican American Studies Program in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona in our journal, on our blog and in several panels and forums that were videotaped and made available to our readers.  See “The Hypocrisy of Racism: Arizona's Movement towards State-Sanctioned Apartheid” by Augustine F. Romero, “DangerousMinds In Tucson: The Banning of Mexican American Studies and Critical ThinkingIn Arizona” by Curtis Acosta, “Precious Knowledge: An Interview with Film Director,Ari Palos, on April 15, 2013” by Celina Meza, and “Keeping the Flames at Bay:The Interplay between Federal Oversight and State Politics in Tucson’s MexicanAmerican Studies Program,” by Leslie A. Locke and Ann E. Blankenship.

A trial date has now been set to challenge the constitutionality of these actions.  Below is an e-mail that we received that will bring our readers up to date on events.  


April 13, 2017
Mexican American Studies Trial
Tucson, Arizona

The legal challenge to the constitutionality of the State of Arizona's banning of Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District has been scheduled for trial in Tucson, Arizona. Trial will be held on June 26-30, 2017 and continue on July 17-21, 2017.

The MAS case contends that the actions of the State of Arizona violated the Equal Protection and First Amendment rights of the school districts Mexican American students. This includes the enactment of the statute HB 2281 and the subsequent enforcement of the law compelling TUSD to eliminate the MAS department, all classes, curriculum and course material.

The anti-MAS law was passed and signed into law shortly after Arizona's infamous SB1070 anti-immigrant law was passed. Both are products of the anti-Mexican sentiments that have been rampant throughout the state. The MAS case was filed October 18, 2010. In the initial proceeding the district court found one of the four provisions in the statute unconstitutional. After a successful appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was remanded for trial on the Equal Protection and First Amendment claims.

Trial will be held in Tucson before the Hon. Judge Tashima and is scheduled to last two weeks. It is open to the public and supporters of Mexican American Studies, Ethnic and Gender studies are invited to attend.

For more information about the trial and attending please contact

MAS Trial -Tucson  

Anita Fernández-Information Coordinator

Monday, March 13, 2017

Banning Books Is Back in Style

This post was first published on

Banning Books Is Back in Style

March 8, 2017

This post  first appeared on Reprinted with permission.

Even from beyond the grave, Howard Zinn is managing to raise the hackles of at least one conservative lawmaker. On March 2, Kim Hendren, a state legislator from Arkansas, introduced a bill which would prohibit public schools from teaching any material written by the famed radical historian.

Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which tells the story of the nation through voices left out or minimized in most conventional histories — women, minorities, the working classes — is no stranger to controversy. It’s been banned before but it also spent weeks on The New York Times non-fiction best-seller list and inspired a television special produced by actor Matt Damon.

Boston Magazine reports that more than 500 Arkansas teachers have requested copies of the book. In homage to their former professor, Boston University alumni are contributing to the Zinn Education Project’s campaign to send copies of the book to Arkansas schools.

In this video you can view a 2009 conversation between Bill Moyers and Zinn about the television production and his ordinary people-centered vision of history.


BILL MOYERS: There's a long tradition in America of people power, and no one has done more to document it than the historian, Howard Zinn. Listen to this paragraph from his most famous book. Quote: "If democracy were to be given any meaning, if it were to go beyond the limits of capitalism and nationalism, this would not come, if history were any guide, from the top. It would come through citizen's movements, educating, organizing, agitating, striking, boycotting, demonstrating, threatening those in power with disruption of the stability they needed." This son of a working class family got a job in the Brooklyn shipyards and then flew as a bombardier during World War II. He went to NYU on the G.I. Bill, taught history at Spellman College in Atlanta, where he was first active in the Civil Rights movement, and then became a professor of political science at Boston University.
There, he and his students sought a more down-to-earth way of looking at American history. And when no book could provide it, Zinn decided to write one. Since his publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has sold more than 2 million copies. This Sunday night, the History Channel will premiere a 90-minute special, The People Speak based on Howard Zinn's book. It was produced by Zinn along with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore and Anthony Arnove.

[VIGGO MORTENSEN as PLOUGH JOGGER]: Let them say what they will.

BILL MOYERS: Actors and musicians bring to life voices of protests from America's past —

[DARRYL MCDANIELS as DAVID WALKER]: All men are created equal.

BILL MOYERS: — performing words and music that have given us, as Howard Zinn himself says, "whatever liberty or democracy we have." Welcome to the Journal.

HOWARD ZINN: Oh, thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: So, history and Hollywood. Is this the beginning of a new career for you?

HOWARD ZINN: I hope not. No, but I am happy it is a way of reaching a larger audience with the ideas that were in the book. The — well, the ideas that you just spoke about. The idea of people involved in history, people actively making history, people agitating and demonstrating, and pushing the leaders of the country into change in a way that leaders themselves are not likely to initiate.

BILL MOYERS: What do you think these characters from the past that we will see on the screen, what do they have to say to us today?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, I think what they have to say to us today is think for yourself. Don't believe what the people up there tell you. Live your own life. Think your own ideas. And don't depend on saviors. Don't depend on the Founding Fathers, on Andrew Jackson, on Theodore Roosevelt, on Lyndon Johnson, on Obama. Don't depend on our leaders to do what needs to be done.
Because whenever the government has done anything to bring about change, it's done so only because it's been pushed and prodded by social movements, by ordinary people organizing, by, you know, Lincoln pushed by the anti-slavery movement. You know, Johnson and Kennedy pushed by the Southern black movement. And maybe hopefully Obama today, maybe he will be pushed by people today who have such high hopes in him, and who want to see him fulfill those hopes.
You know, traditional history creates passivity because it gives you the people at the top and it makes you think that all you have to do is go to the polls every four years and elect somebody who's going to do the trick for you. And no. We want people to understand that that's not going to happen. People have to do it themselves. And so that's what we hope these readings will inspire.

BILL MOYERS: One of my favorite sequences is in here, is when we meet Genora Dollinger. Tell me about her.

HOWARD ZINN: She was a woman who got involved in sit-down strikes of the 1930s. Those very dramatic moments when workers occupied the factories of General Motors and wouldn't leave, and therefore left the corporations helpless. But this was a time when strikes all over the country galvanized people and pushed the New Deal into the reforms that we finally got from the New Deal. And Genora Dollinger represents the women who are very often overlooked in these struggles, women so instrumental in supporting the workers, their men, their sweethearts. And Genora Dollinger just inspires people with her words.

BILL MOYERS: She was only 23 when she organized.

HOWARD ZINN: Amazing. Yes.

[MARISSA TOMEI as GENORA DOLLINGER]: Workers overturned police cars to make barricades. They ran to pick up the fire bombs thrown at them and hurl them back at the police. The men wanted to me to get out of the way. You know the old "protect the women and children" business. I told them, "Get away from me." The lights went on in my head. I thought I have never used a loud speaker to address a large crowd of people but I've got to tell them there are women down here. I called to them, "Cowards! Cowards! Shooting into the bellies of unarmed men and firing at the mothers of children." And then everything became quiet. I thought, "The women can break this up." So I appealed to the women in the crowd, "Break through those police lines and come down here and stand beside your husbands and your brothers and your uncles and your sweethearts." I could barely see one woman struggling to come forward. A cop had grabbed her by the back of her coat. She just pulled out of that coat and she started walking down to the battle zone. As soon as that happened there were other women and men who followed. That was the end of the battle. When those spectators came into the center of the battle and the police retreated, there was a big roar of victory.

BILL MOYERS: That's Marisa Tomei as Genora Dollinger. What do you think when you hear those words?

HOWARD ZINN: First, I must say this, Bill. When my daughter saw this she heard Marisa Tomei shout to the police, "Cowards, cowards." My daughter said a chill, a chill went through her. She was so moved. And so, when I see this, and I've seen this so many times, and each time I am moved because what it tells me is that just ordinary people, you know, people who are not famous, if they get together, if they persist, if they defy the authorities, they can defeat the largest corporation in the world.

BILL MOYERS: When I was last at the National Portrait Gallery in London, I was struck all over again by how the portraits there were all of wealthy people who could afford to hire an artist. It's like when you go to Egypt, and you see the pyramids and the tombs, you realize that it was only the wealthy people who could afford to consider their legacy and have the leisure time to do what they want to. We know almost nothing about the ordinary people of Egypt, right?

HOWARD ZINN: Exactly. I remember when I was going to, you know, high school and learning, it was such a thrilling story to read about the Transcontinental Railroad. You know, and the meeting of the two Union Pacific — you know, the golden spike and all of that. But I wasn't told that this railroad was built by Chinese and Irish workers who worked by the thousands — long hours, some — many of them died in sickness, and overwork, and so on. I wasn't told about these working people. And so, that's what we're trying to do in this documentary. That's what I tried to do in the People's History of the United States. To bring back into the forefront the people who created what was called the economical miracle of the United States.

BILL MOYERS: One of your producers of this film is Matt Damon. And I understand that when Matt Damon was in the fifth grade, he took a copy of this book into his teacher on Columbus Day and said, "What is this? We're here to celebrate this great event, but two years after Columbus discovered America, 100,000 Indians were dead according to Howard Zinn. He said, what's going on?" Is that a true story?

HOWARD ZINN: It's true. Not all stories are true. But this — it's true. Matt Damon, when he was 10 years old, was given a copy of my book by his mother. They were next-door neighbors of ours.

BILL MOYERS: Oh. I didn't know that. Where?

HOWARD ZINN: In the Boston area, in Newton. And Matt would say that he and his brother Kyle would — they'd wake up sometime in the middle of the night and see the light on in my study, where I was writing this book. So, they were in on it from the beginning. So, yeah, Matt knew the book early.

BILL MOYERS: Even today, people are inspired by celebrities, TV performers, athletes, famous politicians. Are there people doing today what Genora Dollinger and others did in the past?

HOWARD ZINN: I think there are people like that today. But very often, they're ignored in the media. You know, or they appear for a day, you know, on the pages of The Times or The Post. They — and then they disappear. But, well, you know, there are those people recently who sat in Chicago in this plant that was going to be closed by the Bank of America and these people sat in and refused to leave. I mean, that was a modern-day incarnation of what the sit-down strike is- in the 1930s. But there are people — there are people today who are fighting evictions, fighting foreclosures. And, you know, very often, there's a superficial understanding of a passive citizenry today, which is not true. There are people all over the country who are really conscience-stricken about what's going on. But the media are not covering them very well.

BILL MOYERS: So, help us get a handle on the word and the tradition of populism. What was populism, in essence?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, populi — the word populism came into being in the late 1800s, 1880, 1890, when great corporations dominated the country, the railroads, and the banks, and these farmers were victims of them. And these farmers got together and they organized north and south, and they formed the populist movement. It was a great people's movement. And they sent orators around the country, and they published thousands of pamphlets. And it was — I would say a high moment for American democracy.

BILL MOYERS: Well, if populism is thriving today, it seems to be thriving on the right. I mean, Sarah Palin, for example. And the tea parties. Some — one conservative writer recently in The Weekly Standard even said that Sarah Palin could be the William Jennings Bryan of this new conservative era because she is giving voice to millions of people who feel angry at what the government is doing, who feel that they're being cheated out of a prosperous way of life by forces beyond their control. What do you think about that idea?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, I guess William Jennings Bryan would turn over in his grave if he heard. William Jennings Bryan was antiwar, and she is not antiwar, she is very militaristic and so on. But it's true that she represents a certain angry part of the population. And I think it's true that when people are — feel beleaguered and people feel that they are being overlooked, they will turn to whoever seems to represent them. Some of them will turn to her. And some of them will turn to the right-wingers, and you might say that's how fascism develops in countries, because they play upon the anger and the frustration of people. But on the other hand, that anger, that frustration can also lead to people's movements that are progressive. You can go the way traditionally of the populists, of the labor movement of the '30s, of the civil rights movement, of the women's movement to bring about change in this country.

BILL MOYERS: You mentioned the women's movement, and there's another remarkable moment in your film of Susan B. Anthony, when she's on trial for trying to vote when she and other women didn't have the right.

[JOSH BROLIN as JUDGE HUNT]: The sentence of the court is that you pay a fine of $100 and the costs of the prosecution.

[CHRISTINA KIRK as SUSAN B. ANTHONY]: May it please your honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock in trade I possess is a debt of $10,000, incurred by publishing my paper The Revolution, the sole object of which was to educate all women to do precisely as I have done, rebel against your man-made, unjust, unconstitutional forms of law, which tax, fine, imprison and hang women, while denying them the right of representation in the government; and I will work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, "Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God."

HOWARD ZINN: Christina Kirk, a wonderful actress and she brings Susan B. Anthony alive. And I think what that says to people today is you must stick up for your principles, even if it means breaking the law. Civil disobedience, it's what Thoreau urged, it's what Martin Luther King Jr. urged. It's what was done during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. If you think you're right, then — Susan B. Anthony thought it was right for her to try to register to vote. And yeah, people should defy the rules if they think they're doing the right thing.

BILL MOYERS: You have said elsewhere that if President Obama were listening to Martin Luther King Jr., he'd be making some different decisions. What do you mean by that?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, first of all, he'd be taking our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he'd be saying we are no longer going to be a war-making country. We're not going to be a military country. We're going to take our immense resources, our wealth, we're going to use it for the benefit of people. Remember, Martin Luther King started a poor people's campaign just before he was assassinated. And if Obama paid attention to the working people of this country, then he would be doing much, much more than he is doing now.

BILL MOYERS: I remember — all of us remember who were around then that 1967 speech that Martin Luther King gave here in New York at the Riverside Church, a year before his assassination. And he said, "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice, a structure, which produces beggars, needs restructuring." I mean, that's pretty fundamental, right? Change the system?

HOWARD ZINN: King had a much more fundamental critique of our economic system. And certainly more fundamental than Obama has because a fundamental critique of our economic system would not simply give hundreds of billions of dollars to the bankers and so on, and give a little bit to the people below. A fundamental change in our system would really create a greater equalization of wealth, would I think give us free medical care. Not the kind of half-baked health reforms that are being now debated in Congress.

BILL MOYERS: This is one reason you are seen as a threat to other people. People at the top, because your message, like King's message, goes to a fundamental allocation of power in America, right?

HOWARD ZINN: Yeah, that is very troublesome for people at the top. They're willing to let people think about mild reforms and little changes, and incremental changes, but they don't want people to think that we could actually transform this country into a peaceful country, that we no longer have to be a super military power. They don't want to think that way because it's profitable for certain interests in this country to carry on war, to have military bases in 100 countries, to have a $600 billion military budget. That makes a lot of money for certain people. But it leaves the rest of the country behind.

BILL MOYERS: Take a look at this.

[VIGGO MORTENSEN as IWW MEMBER]: If you were a bum without a blanket; if you had left your wife and kids when you went west for a job, and had never located them since; if your job had never kept you long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if you slept in a lousy, sour bunkhouse, and ate food just as rotten as they could give you and get by with it; if deputy sheriffs shot your cooking cans full of holes and spilled your grub on the ground; if your wages were lowered on you when the bosses thought they had you down; if every person who represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to it, how in the hell do you expect a man to be patriotic? This war is a businessman’s war and we don't see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs which we now enjoy.

HOWARD ZINN: Viggo Mortensen. And he's reading the words of a labor person, I.W.W. man —

BILL MOYERS: I.W.W., International Workers of the World? (Editor's Note — Correction: IWW is Industrial Workers of the World)

HOWARD ZINN: That's right. And they refused to go along with World War I, and he's explaining why they won't. And he — basically, he's speaking to poor people in all wars. Your — he's saying, "It's a businessman's war." And war is a businessman's war. It always is. And so, the people — the ordinary guys were like — and Viggo Mortensen portrays here — ordinary guys have nothing to gain from this war.

BILL MOYERS: So, how do you explain the absence of protest in the streets today? The abs — the passivity in response to the fact that we will — we have now doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan that George W. Bush had. How do explain the apathy?

HOWARD ZINN: Let's put it this way — I don't think people are apathetic about it. I believe most people in this country do not want us to be in Afghanistan. But they're not doing anything about it, you're right. We're not seeing protests in the street. And I think one of those reasons is that the media- the major media, television and newspapers — they have not played their role in educating the public about what is going on.

BILL MOYERS: There was a poll late this week showing that a bare majority of Americans do support sending more troops to Afghanistan. How do you read that?

HOWARD ZINN: You have to remember this — it is not easy for people to oppose sending troops to Afghanistan, especially once they have been sent and once the decision has been made. It's not easy for people to oppose what the president is saying, and what the media are saying, what both major parties are working for. And so, the very fact that even close to a majority of the people are opposed to sending troops to Afghanistan tells me that many more people are opposed. So I have a fundamental faith in the basic decency, and even, yes, the wisdom of people, once they make their way through the deceptions that are thrown at them. And we've seen this historically. People learn.

BILL MOYERS: I was struck in your special by what the labor leader, Cesar Chavez, had to say about organizing his fellow farm workers.

[MARTIN ESPADA as CESAR CHAVEZ]: I'm not very different from anyone else who has ever tried to accomplish something with his life. My motivation comes from watching what my mother and father went through when I was growing up; from what we experienced as migrant farm workers in California. It grew from anger and rage — emotions I felt 40 years ago when people of my color were denied the right to see a movie or eat at a restaurant in many parts of California. It grew from the frustration and humiliation I felt as a boy who couldn't understand how the growers could abuse and exploit farm workers when there were so many of us and so few of them.
I began to realize what other minority people had discovered: That the only answer — the only hope — was in organizing.
Like the other immigrant groups, the day will come when we win the economic and political rewards which are in keeping with our numbers in society. The day will come when the politicians do the right thing by our people out of political necessity and not out of charity or idealism. That day may not come this year. That day may not come during this decade. But it will come.

BILL MOYERS: It will come. Marti­n Espada as Cesar Chavez.

HOWARD ZINN: Yeah, a great poet.

BILL MOYERS: Do you believe that it will come?

HOWARD ZINN: I do. I can't give you a date.


HOWARD ZINN: But I have confidence in the future. You know why? You know, you have to be patient. Farm workers were at one point in as helpless a position as the labor movement is today. But as Cesar Chavez said, we learned that you have to organize. And it takes time, it takes patience, it takes persistence. I mean, think of how long black people in the South waited —

BILL MOYERS: Three hundred years.


BILL MOYERS: A long — and then 100 years after the Civil War, which was fought for freedom.

HOWARD ZINN: Yeah. Well, I don't think we'll have to wait 100 years.

BILL MOYERS: So, populism isn't really — and people's power, isn't really a left or right issue, is it? It's more us versus them, bottom versus top?

HOWARD ZINN: It's democracy. You know, democracy doesn't come from the top. It comes from the bottom. Democracy is not what governments do. It's what people do. Too often, we go to junior high school and they sort of teach us democracy is three branches of government. You know, it's not the three branches of government.

BILL MOYERS: I'd like to end with a woman who showed us the power of a single voice, speaking for democracy. Born into slavery, largely uneducated, she spoke out for the rights of all people who didn't have any. I mean she was an unforgettable truth teller, you know. And here is Kerry Washington as Sojourner Truth.

[KERRY WASHINGTON as SOJOURNER TRUTH]: That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as any man — when I could get it — and I could bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen most sold off into slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? That man in the back there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Well, where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? He came from God and a woman! Man didn't have nothing to do with it. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, well these women here together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And they asking to do it, the men better let them.

BILL MOYERS: Why did you include that one?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, we included that one because it's so empowering. And, I mean, because here is this woman who was a slave and, you know, oppressed on all sides, and she's defiant. And so, she represents the voice of people who've been overlooked. And she represents a voice which is rebellious and, yeah, troublesome to the powers that be.

BILL MOYERS: Well, I will be watching the History Channel Sunday evening with your book in my lap. Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States. Thank you for being with me.

HOWARD ZINN: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: That's it for the Journal. Go to our website at and click on Bill Moyers Journal. You will find out more about historian Howard Zinn and read a selection of his writings. There's also a web exclusive essay on land mines and Barack Obama's Nobel Prize. That's all at I'm Bill Moyers. See you next time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Could Trump Cut Berkeley's Funds?

Editor: Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, offers an analysis on a provocative current issue.  We thank Scott for his permission to reprint it on our blog.  You can find the original article here.

Could Trump Cut Berkeley's Funds?

Experts say current law doesn’t permit punishing a university over handling of a speaker -- and that the president’s tweet distorted what took place.


February 3, 2017

The news out of the University of California, Berkeley, Wednesday night stunned many. A lecture by Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos -- known for his inflammatory insults -- was called off amid violent protests. While a large group of students and others engaged in nonviolent protest, an organized group of about 100-150 people from off campus, many of them masked, set fires, threw fireworks and rocks, and scuffled with police. The university had defended the right of Yiannopoulos to appear, but said safety issues forced it to call off the event.

Then Thursday morning, with Berkeley still cleaning up from the protests, President Trump weighed in.

If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?



The tweet set off much discussion in higher education. Some noted that Berkeley did not "practice violence" Wednesday night or deny free speech.

Many asked: Could Trump cut off federal funds to Berkeley? As a large research university, Berkeley depends on federal funds both for student aid and research. Hundreds of millions of dollars would be at stake if Trump could withhold the money.

Experts said they don't think the president has the authority to do so.

Tony DeCrappeo, president of the Council on Governmental Relations, a group that monitors laws and regulations related to research universities, said he knew of no law that would permit Trump to cut off funds to a university over a campus speaker.

The American Council on Education had a lawyer review the issue and found no such authority to punish a college over a speaker dispute, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the association of college presidents. He said that, during the Nixon administration, officials discussed some ways to use federal funding to punish colleges that were the sites of anti-war protests, but the idea never went forward and was viewed as unconstitutional.

Federal laws do of course impose requirements on colleges receiving federal aid that have nothing to do with the aid, per se. And some members of Congress have used such laws to oppose certain trends on campuses. In the 1980s, U.S. Representative Gerald Solomon, a New York Republican, attached to several appropriations bills provisions that cut off federal funds to institutions that did not permit military recruiters on campus. At the time, many law schools did ban military recruiters, saying that the military's anti-gay discrimination (since ended) violated institutional policies. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law.

Hartle questioned whether any law or regulation should deny Berkeley the right to handle an event like the violent Wednesday night protest in a manner officials thought was best to preserve safety. Hartle said that Berkeley officials "clearly and unambiguously" affirmed the right of Yiannopoulos to speak.

Having done so, Berkeley tried to let Yiannopoulos speak and called the speech off only when facing violence that could have gotten much worse, Hartle said.

"That was a situation that was out of control," Hartle said. Campus leaders "have to assure a safe campus without violence."

He added, "I think second-guessing decisions like that made by [campus] law enforcement is a dangerous thing to be engaged in."

Notably, Berkeley's handling of the Yiannopoulos visit also won praise from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which regularly criticizes colleges that turn away controversial speakers.

"In the week leading up to Milo Yiannopoulos's appearance, the University of California, Berkeley, did in fact appear to uphold its obligations to protect its students’ First Amendment rights. Chancellor [Nicholas] Dirks’s letter to the campus community correctly rebuffed calls for the university to cancel the event, noting that as a public institution, expression cannot be banned based on content or viewpoint," said an email from Ari Z. Cohn, director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at FIRE.

"Dirks also properly explained that the university could not tax the event with excessive security fees based on the content of Yiannopoulos’s expression, or anticipated opposition to his appearance. FIRE welcomed Dirks’s strong defense of Cal students’ First Amendment rights, and we hope that others will follow in his footsteps even in the wake of what transpired last night."

As to the idea of cutting federal funds, Cohn said that through future legislation, "the government could certainly condition the receipt of federal funds to public universities on compliance with their already legally binding constitutional and statutory obligations, including the First Amendment." But he added that this doesn't make sense for Berkeley, given that the university was trying to comply with its obligations.

"To punish an educational institution for the criminal behavior of those not under its control and in contravention of its policies, whether through the loss of federal funds or through any other means, would be deeply inappropriate and most likely unlawful," Cohn said.

Berkeley has not responded directly to Trump's tweet. But it did release a statement Thursday afternoon condemning the violence and providing an update on investigations of what happened.

In the statement, Chancellor Dirks criticized those who engaged in violence. “The violence was an attack on our fundamental values, which are maintaining and nurturing open inquiry and an inclusive, civil society -- the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation,” he said. “We are now, and will remain in the future, completely committed to free speech not only as a vital component of our campus identity but as essential to our educational mission.”

Other details provided by Berkeley:

  • Two students who are members of the Berkeley College Republicans were attacked on campus Thursday while doing an interview. Two men -- unaffiliated with Berkeley -- were arrested in the attack.
  • Only one arrest -- of a nonstudent -- took place Wednesday night. The university is reviewing recordings and seeking information about others who could be charged. Pro-Yiannopoulos people on social media have questioned why Berkeley didn't arrest more people Wednesday night, but Berkeley has said its police officers did an admirable job under tense conditions in preventing injuries and more violence.
  • An early estimate of the cost of damage to the campus is about $100,000. Costs include fixing broken windows, replacing a generator that caught fire and was destroyed, sandblasting paint off the concrete steps of the student union, and cleaning up graffiti.
  • Ten businesses off campus have reported damage.

The Politics of Criticizing Berkeley

Even if Trump can't cut a penny from Berkeley's budget, his tweet may well be great politics. Many on social media praised him and seemed to accept the view that the violent protesters represented Berkeley, and suggested that Berkeley did nothing to stop the violence. Berkeley has said that all its evidence points to the violent group coming from off campus. Tweets on Thursday said things like, "Yes, cut their funding" and "They destroyed property probably funded by taxpayers. Berkeley did nothing to stop distruction. CUT OFF ALL TAX FUNDING!" [Sic.]

Others questioned Trump's logic and defended the university.


As a UC Regent I'm appalled at your willingness to deprive over 38,000 students access to an education because of the actions of a few.


John R. Thelin, professor of the history of higher education and public policy at the University of Kentucky, said via email that the real story of Berkeley is in fact one of supporting free speech.

"It's important to keep in mind that the motto of the University of California is Fiat Lux! -- 'Let There Be Light!' That does not extend to invok[ing] smoke, mirrors, bombs or blasts," Thelin said via email. "As a Californian and a Berkeley grad school alumnus, I take the motto and symbols to heart. The Berkeley campus has a long tradition of open political forum stretching back to the 1930s, even long before the volatile, visible campus protests of the mid- and late 1960s."

As for the tweet, Thelin said, "President Trump's response seems to be a threat -- and probably predictable bluster. Stopping federal funding for research grants and/or student aid is both rash and probably not allowable."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seattle Black Lives Matter Movement a Fitting Introduction to the Journal of Educational Controversy’s Upcoming Issue.

The Journal of Educational Controversy’s upcoming issue: Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex aims to add more voices to the Black Lives Matter discussion and, as always, provide a forum for examining the dilemmas and controversies that arise in the education of citizens in a pluralistic, democratic society. 

Earlier this year, an unprecedented movement of Seattle educators, staff, students, and community members demonstrated the importance of this issue to all people who are directly or indirectly affected by how Black lives are valued at school.

On October 19, thousands of educators, students, staff, and family members in Washington’s Seattle Public School District organized to wear Black Lives Matter shirts, promote class discussions, and perform before-school rallies in an effort called “Black Lives Matter At School.”

The event arose as an expression of solidarity with John Muir Elementary School, which had previously canceled an event on “Black Men Uniting to Change the Narrative” after received threats against Black Lives Matter supporters.  

Although not officially sponsored by the Seattle School District, the event was endorsed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle Educator’s Association and supported by the Seattle teacher’s union. The event was scheduled to coincide with Seattle’s preexisting “day of unity” which focuses on promoting equity in education.

According to participants, the movement aimed to draw attention to inequality in all areas of public education including historical representation, opportunity gaps, and unbalanced patterns of discipline and retention rates. The Seattle Public School District made a statement asking educators and community members to “engage and join the conversation in our united efforts to eliminate opportunity gaps.”

In an interview which first appeared on SocialistWorker.Org, event organizer and Garfield High School Teacher Jesse Hagopian talked about the importance of demonstrations like theirs to embolden the community. “School is supposed to be a place to talk about the things that matter most, and now [students] are being allowed to do that,” he said, “I think that a lot of what the teachers did in wearing that shirt was inspired by the actions of students who are protesting all around the city.” 

In October, the Seattle Public School community made the statement that Black Lives Matter at their schools. The Journal of Educational Controversy hopes to continue the conversation and invite more voices into the discussion with its upcoming issue: Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex as well as a panel discussion that will take place later this year. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Interfaith Messages for 2017

Welcome back to our blog for the New Year.  We thought we would start 2017 once again with a message from the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, an organization that we have featured on our blog on different occasions.  Check out their resources and programs for teachers and principals at
Below Tanenbaum shares the wisdom from across the world’s faiths and beliefs to guide and ground us throughout 2017. 

 African Indigenous Religions

It is not always physical bravery that counts. One must have the courage to face life as it is, to go through sorrows and always sacrifice oneself for the sake of others. African Traditional Religions Kipsigis Saying (Kenya)


Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind. Bahau’ullah, Tablets of Wisdom


Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) of great strength delight in reconciliation of conflict. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 8


 All of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8


 All you have to do is take this very heart here and apply it to what is over there. Hence one who extends his bounty can bring peace to the Four Seas; one who does not cannot bring peace even to his own family. Confucianism: Mencius I.A.7


What sort of religion can it be without compassion? You need to show compassion to all living beings. Compassion is the root of all religious faiths. Basasvanna, Vachana 247


A man once asked the Prophet what was the best thing in Islam, and the latter replied, “It is to feed the hungry and to give the greeting of peace both to those one knows and to those one does not know.” Hadith of Bukhari


Have benevolence toward all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved. Tattvartha Sutra 7.11


The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace. Talmud, Gittin 59b

 Native American

 Respect for all life is the foundation. The Great Law of Peace

 Secular Humanism

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. Bertrand Russell, Russell-Einstein Manifesto


To be helpful to others and in the world at large through deeds of service without thought of rewards, and to seek the advancement of the world as one whose life mediates the will of Kami. Jinja Shinto Principle


 Now is the gracious Lord’s ordinance promulgated, no one shall cause another pain or injury; all mankind shall live in peace together. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.5


 Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. Lao Tzu