Ayers Reconsidered

, Bethany Stotts, Leave a comment

The 2008 elections are over, but former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers is not likely to be out of the limelight anytime soon.  The University of Wyoming’s Social Justice Research Center recently canceled an April 5 speech by former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers due to “personal and professional reasons, including safety concerns,” according to a March 30 UW press release. This isn’t the first time.

Ayers’ scheduled appearance “…raised hundreds of objections from citizens and politicians…” reported Bob Moen for the Associated Press on March 30.

He later adds that “UW spokesman Jim Kearns said Tuesday the college had received about 300 e-mails and phone calls, with the overwhelming majority against Ayers’ visit. Several GOP gubernatorial candidates also voiced their opposition.”

As of Tuesday evening the SJRC still had the flier for Ayers’ April 5 speech up on its website. Today it merely notes that the event is “canceled.”

Moen notes in his article that “Ayers was scheduled to speak Monday on the Laramie campus about social justice issues and education.”

The following day, he was to participate in a teleconference with Wyoming school principals” (emphasis added).

The SJRC may have invited Ayers to speak, but the director there—Professor Francisco A. Rios—is also the Chair of the UW College of Education, according to his curriculum vitae (pdf).

On March 27 Rios told Aaron LeClair, staff writer for the Laramie Boomerang that “What I particularly like about him is he questions taken-for-granted assumptions about how things should be or how things are. …And, in questioning these taken-for-granted assumptions … he knows that they oftentimes impede our understanding of how to do education more justly.”

In addition, Professor Rios told LeClair, “He’s a prolific writer. He [Ayers] has just finished editing a book called ‘The Handbook of Social Justice and Education’ … The book was kind of an impetus for us to say why don’t we bring him as one of our keynote scholars this year.”

According to his CV, Prof. Rios teaches courses in “Becoming a Teacher,” “Second Language Acquisition,” “Issues in Multicultural Education,” and “Teacher as Decision Maker” in “both undergraduate and graduate (masters and Ph.D.) programs.” He is also a adjunct professor in Chicano studies, teaching “Introduction to Chicana/o Studies” and “Latinos in Education.”

Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.