Not Welcome: Critical Thinking, Cultural Relevancy

Latina English teacher is threatened with termination for being too Afro-centric in her teaching

Published on LatinoLA: June 3, 2008

Not Welcome: Critical Thinking, Cultural Relevancy

As a second year teacher, Ms. Karen Salazar has had a dynamic impact on the Jordan High School campus by connecting readings to the real lives and struggles that students go through. Her English Class has become a favorite among students on campus, where they regularly read and analyzed books and selected readings from people of color to whom the students can relate. Students, who typically skip some of their classes, show up religiously in Salazar‘«÷s English class.

However, much of Salazar‘«÷s success has also led to constant harassment by Jordan High School administration. Salazar has been visited and ‘«£observed‘«ō by the administration over 15 times in the past year. During one of the visits, an administrator criticized her for having students read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X", a Los Angeles Unified School District-approved text. When she objected to this criticism, she was told that her teachings where too ‘«£Afro-centric.‘«ō She was then told that the school would not renew her teaching contract for the upcoming school year.

What makes this case particularly interesting is that the principal, Stephen Strachan, is African American and Salazar is Salvadorian. However, Strachan believes that Salazar teaches too much about the Black experience, which is completely ironic.

‘«£The school knows that Ms. Salazar is a very passionate and good teacher, and yet they want to fire her. It is not fair because there are many other teachers who don‘«÷t teach anything, and they never get fired,‘«ō said one of the Jordan High School Students at a youth-led meeting to discuss the firing.

At the meeting, many Jordan students expressed anger and frustration over the situation. After two hours of discussion, it was agreed that the students would form the Students 4 Salazar coalition and demand that Ms. Salazar continue to teach at Jordan for the upcoming school year. Students also decided that they had no other recourse but to take direct action to save their teacher.

A protest rally was planned for after school in front of Jordan H.S. on Thursday, June 5th 2008 at 3:15pm.

For a video of the meeting, please visit: here

Article submitted by the Association of Raza Educators: or email us at:

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