Tucson Progressive

Pamela J. Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

On disciplinegate: Did the Arizona Daily Star get it right?

In an editorial this past Saturday, the Arizona Daily Star took aim at Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program Director Sean Arce for canceling the annual Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Mexican American Students Awards Ceremony, a 10-year tradition.

Thanks to information provided to them by MAS supporters, just a few days earlier, the Star broke the story of the TUSD personnel action against Arce for canceling the event. Apparently, Arce took it upon himself to cancel the long-standing tradition to honor all Mexican American students without consulting his supervisor, Assistant Superintendent Lupita Cavazos-Garcia. In May, Cavazos-Garcia met with him, encouraged him to have the event on May 21, and offered resources. From the Star

The following morning Cavazos-Garcia emailed Arce asking if he had secured a location [for the ceremony]. Arce responded with four reasons the district shouldn’t reschedule and noted that he would be in California that weekend speaking about Mexican American Studies at a conference [which was actually a Save Ethnic Studies fundraising event].

The reasons cited were: the certificates of recognition already had been sent out to students; the Mexican American Studies Department wouldn’t be able to put in the effort required to put on the ceremony; any attempt to reschedule would be interpreted as halfhearted and disingenuous; and dozens of parents of Mexican American Studies students were extremely upset because of developments surrounding the program, so rather than allow for an escalation of a delicate situation, he believed that it was best to let cooler heads prevail.

Arce disobeyed his supervisor’s direct request, and this, in turn, led to official disciplinary action against him.

The Star’s Saturday editorial strongly supported Cavazos-Garcia’s action, and so do I.

So it’s puzzling why the program director, Sean Arce, would unilaterally decide to scrap the traditional end-of-the-year awards ceremony that honors the achievements of Latino students. He has been reprimanded for the decision, and we believe rightly so, because canceling the celebration robbed the community of the chance to come together and celebrate the hard work and well-deserved honors the kids have earned.

If the true purpose of the Mexican American Studies program is, as its literature states, to lift students up through education, to help them forge strong community bonds and develop pride in themselves and their roots, then they should have the opportunity to do that.

If the Mexican American Studies program exists to further the political and academic careers of the adults involved, then they should be upfront about those goals. Canceling the awards ceremony takes the focus away from the kids, and puts it on the adults, where it doesn’t belong…

Caught in the middle are the tens of thousands of students in TUSD schools who are in need of a good education that will prepare them for college or work and make sure they have a sense of belonging.

A relatively small percentage of high school students find this connection in the MAS classes, but the need is much greater.

So it is distressing that Arce, the MAS program director, took it upon himself to cancel an event that affected a large number of students – not only kids who take the MAS classes, but all Latino kids.

I think the Star’s editorial writer was spot on. I think using the right-wing’s approval or disapproval of the ceremony as an excuse not to hold it is lame. High school graduation is a major right of passage for students and their parents. Arce’s action diminished their experience; the disciplinary action is wholly justified.

4 comments on “On disciplinegate: Did the Arizona Daily Star get it right?

  1. James Kelley
    June 12, 2011

    I agree with Pamela Powers. Has hell frozen over?


    • Pamela Powers
      June 13, 2011

      Scary, huh?


  2. cruz
    June 12, 2011

    Acre’s see himself as somewhat of as a “god”, figuratively speaking of course, and thinks he is can do as he pleases, he  answers to no one. If he gets no response he say, see I do as I please and if he gets the response he got it’s says see they’re against us they’re out to get us. Acre’s is no fool, he got the response he was looking for to go along with the poor me BS him and is his buddy David Morales could ride until the cows came home.


  3. cruz
    June 12, 2011

    Before anyone jumps on me I see I misspelled Arce’s last name – my bad, but while I’m at it i thought I’d mention David Morales has lost is mind asking if the ADS has the right to questions Arce’s actions, has he lost his mind to ask such a questions the ADS is a legitimate, which normally leans a little to the left,  newspaper not a blog such as the TC in which Morales writes for. Morales thinks to highly of himself and needs to go away.


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This entry was posted on June 12, 2011 by in Arizona, education, Tucson, TUSD and tagged , , , .

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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