by David Safier
Curtis Acosta, a TUSD teacher who taught in the dismantled Mexican American Studies program and often acted as its spokesperson, held a news conference at the Prescott College Tucson Center Tuesday. Acosta is taking a leave of absence from TUSD to finish his doctoral dissertation and to pursue other ventures. Whether he returns to the District is anybody’s guess, but he left on his own accord; he was neither fired nor pushed out. However, while he has good things to say about TUSD teachers and its schools (his wife works in the District and his son attends school there), he is, not surprisingly, less than pleased with the District’s leadership which caved to the demands made by state Republican leaders to get rid of MAS without mounting a serious defense of the program.
I’ve gotten to know Acosta as I’ve covered the MAS story and find him to be an exceptionally intelligent and capable guy — excellent thinker, writer and speaker. Though I’ve never been in his classroom, I have no doubt he’s a very fine teacher as well.
When MAS was dismantled, Acosta began a course called Chicano Literature After School Studies (CLASS) which he taught on Sundays without compensation. Prescott College granted the course college credit. Because of money raised locally and around the country, mainly by Acosta, the students didn’t have to pay tuition.
Acosta will be teaching a class with the same acronym but a changed title, Chicano Literature, Arts and Social Studies, again through Prescott College, which is scheduled to meet Mondays and Wednesdays after school. His goal is to attract students from around the greater Tucson area with a variety of backgrounds. He’s committed to offering the course to students tuition free. He’ll be posting an application form for the class sometime soon.
His other venture is the Acosta Latino Learning Partnership, a consulting business “committed to helping educators and education professionals create dynamic learning environments, pedagogy and curriculum that inspires every student to thrive . . . ALLP is also dedicated to improving the academic lives and dreams for Latino students.”
Acosta’s ventures are part of the continuing legacy of the Mexican American Studies program which has created present and future leaders among its students and added to Tucson’s vibrancy. TUSD needs to take a close look at the tangible and intangible results of the program and think about ways it can create an equally vital program to fulfill the mandates of the court-ordered desegregation plan.