Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce Wins National Zinn Education Award

By Jeff Biggers

While the Daily Show brilliantly reminded millions of viewers last night of the disgraceful racist elements behind the attack on Tucson’s acclaimed and now outlawed Mexican American Studies program, educators across the nation recalled a teaching moment.

Over a half century ago, facing a similar segregationist campaign to shut down the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, famous for its pioneering desegregation and civil rights efforts, folk school co-founder Myles Horton informed his rabid foes: “A school is an idea, and you can’t padlock an idea.”

Invoking Horton’s towering legacy today, the Zinn Education Project bestowed its national Myles Horton Education Award on embattled Mexican American Studies director Sean Arce for his leadership role in “one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the U.S.”