Bill Ayers and brother Rick discuss corporate evils in education at Hilton El Conquistador

Sean Arce with Augustine Romero|Bill Ayers and Rick Ayers

Bill Ayers and his brother Rick lounged in the lap of luxury this week while taking a break from presenting on the fine art of community organizing and resistance at the National Association of Multicultural Educators Conference this week. The educators conferenced at the plush El Conquistador Hotel outside Tucson, Arizona.

On Thursday, Rick Ayers, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at the University of San Francisco, presented Scholar-Activists Bridge Across Borders Via Community Organizing. Ayers and panelists Miguel Zavala, of California State University Fullerton, and Tricia Gallagher dialogued about community organizing strategies for multicultural education, exploring the possibility of both multi-ethnic struggle and scholar‐activism.

On Friday, Bill Ayers and former Tucson Unified School District teacher, Curtis Acosta, offered their pearls of wisdom on the subject of Educational Courage/Coraje: Building Community and Solidarity to Resist Corporate-­Driven Education. Ayers and Acosta discussed “educators and activists who have shown courage resisting current market-­‐driven educational policies and shared their stories and strategies of courage and hope,” in the Hilton Corporation’s destination resort.

bill-ayers-rick-ayersAyers, best known for his work with the radical Weather Underground, was heading out of Tucson Friday night.

The NAME conference will conclude on Sunday. The theme this year is Dismantling Fronteras through Multicultural Education: Con Comunidad, Cariño y Coraje.

The plush El Conquistador is located in the foothills overlooking the 8th poorest metropolitan area in the country. The decision to hold the conference at the resort angered Raza activist David Abie Morales, who blogged on the questionable choice last week. He questioned why the “NAME conference on decolonization in education in Tucson, is being held at El Conquistador, named after the despised conquistadors.”

The local organizer of the conference, Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) Pueblo High School Principal Augustine Romero, chose the location for the always revolutionary event.

The Tucson NAME Chapter Planning Committee includes such notables as TUSD’s Board members Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster, and Adelita Grijalva, UofA professors Jeffrey F. Milem, and Julio Cammarota, Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, and former MAS teachers Maria C. Federico Brummer, Curtis Acosta, Sara Rusk, and Lorenzo Lopez Jr.

“That’s right, the conference about decolonization will take place at The Conqueror in the mountains of mostly white Oro Valley where you can look down on the Tucsonans from your balcony…,” blogged Morales, “that is if there weren’t mountains in the way.”

The resort is nestled at the base of Pusch Ridge, approximately 15 miles away from the University of Arizona and TUSD’s central office. TUSD is the home of the now disbanded Mexican American Studies classes.

The ADI reported earlier that the group called on “the entire NAME membership, to join us in envisioning the kind of transformative and inspiring gathering that the Tucson conference could be. We are needed now and there as much as ever.”

Educators appeared to be inspired by their surroundings, while sipping wine, as they discussed the price point offered by the publishers of their past and upcoming publications.

To read the Conference Program, click here.

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