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Teacher/ Activist Cesar Cruz Fired For Placing Students and Parents Above Profit

by mark gonzales Thursday, Mar. 25, 2004 at 4:00 PM
civilwritesproject@yahoo.com

International Activist, Poet, and Elementary Teacher Cesar Cruz was fired Monday at Downer Elementary School. The firing occured after an article was published that documented Cesar's organizing of a 70 mile march on Sacramento by students and parents to protest budget cuts at their 99% people of color school, as well as the presence of the nearby prison and oil refinery. (Un) Coincidentally, Cesar had also recently aided the community in their demands for a new school and site-based management. A call for action is occurring.

A Letter to all parents, artists, End-Dependence and Cesar:

The recent firing of teacher Cesar Cruz (Bay Area) by the Peaceful Schools Project supervisor Laura Cornell, once again is illustrative of the reactionary, pro-bureaucracy, and anti-student politics that are plaguing our communities and the educational system

Over the last year Cesar has assisted the Downer community in demanding and receiving from the School Board the construction of a new school, to replace the inadequate, poorly equipped facility that the 99% youth of color elementary school now occupy. In addition, Cesar was working side by side with faculty and parents to exercise a Union law that states: if 75% of the teachers and parents are in favor, the principal can not only be fired, but the position itself can be removed, and teachers and parents can work together to operate a site-based management school run by the people who live in the community and whose students attend the school (rather than administrators who live in affluent suburbs miles away). Yet while schools are simultaneously holding Cesar Chavez, King, Malcolm, African and Indigenous heritage celebrations, they are firing those who are following in their footsteps. This not only sends messages to students that they should not speak up or out, by firing teachers like Cesar, they are taking away one of the few constants children have, in a world of flux.

In the weeks leading up to the firing, Cesar was involved in planning a 70 mile march by elementary students, parents, and faculty from Richmond to Sacramento, to protest the disproportionate budget cuts affecting their school. The protest march was to make stops at the prison and nearby Chevron refinery (whose toxins are produced blocks away from where students go to school). At the end of the march, the community was to have a meeting with Governor Elect Schwarzenegger.

The firing is no doubt to serve as a precedent to all those who dare to put the intellectual and personal growth of their students above bureaucracy and administrative personal goals.

1st action: All those appalled by the firing and in support of the actions of not only Cesar, but all teachers/ organizers nationwide like him who have been targeted by administrators and government officials under laws like the Patriot Act, should e-mail or contact Ms. Laura Cornell at 510-597-0781 or lcornell@mindspring.com and express their outrage. Other key personel are President Cjarles Ramseu at cramsey@wccusd.k12.ca.us, (510) 682-5600; Glen Price glen@glensprice.com (510) 528-1315 (clerk), Patricia Player Playeredu@cs.com (510) 524-9789 (member), Karen Fenton kfenton@pacbell.net (member) (510) 236-8460, George Harris III, gah_iii@yahoo.com (member) (510) 469-3109

2nd Action: I urge all artists/ activists to organize a show in the Bay Area to raise awareness of the case of Cesar Cruz, and all other teachers, activists, and employees like him who have been targeted for trying to better the conditions of the neighborhood at the expense of corporate media image and profit. END-Dependence specifically should be planning an event to show solidarity with Cesar, as well as to increase awareness of the March on Sacramento, protesting unfit school conditions, that will begin April 9th. I invite all artists in solidarity with such an evening to contact Mark Gonzales at humanwritesproject@yahoo.com, marksism@hotmail.com, or call 909-289-2876.

3rd Action: Cesar is also currently involved in the beginning stages of creating a community center across the street from one of the most policed high schools in the Bay Area, a few blocks away from the under funded Downey Elementary school, which is unsafely near an oil refinery. This center will provide classes on creative expression and self-actualization through Hiphop, Spoken word, film making, martial arts, and aims to grow into a publication center for local writers, as well as a productive outlet for area youth. The best way to protest is to not only object against the current, but began the creation of the new; this firing once again demonstrates the need for an autonomous center near Downey where progressive teachers can work with youth on creating change without worry of a pink slip. Those interested in assisting Cesar in this creation should contact him directly cesaracruz@juno.com or call him at (510)-388-3587

Support the youth by supporting those who ally themselves with them.

(articles documenting Cesar's case are attached below)

For more info on Cesar A. Cruz please read this article published in Monday West County Times:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/8247196.htm



Please see West County Times article below with details:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/8263012.htm

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