Students usually bear the brunt of increasing tuition and soaring textbook prices at schools and universities. But now a teacher is paying the high cost with his job.
Animation Professor Mike Tracy was forced to resign last night from his post at the Art Institute of California - Orange County because he refused school administrators' requests to use a textbook in his class.
Tracy considered the $50 e-textbook "redundant" and "irrelevant" for students taking his Photoshop class in the fall term. In July, he took his concerns to the U.S. Department of Education, the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. But the pressure on him to pick a book for his class only escalated.
President Gregory Marick gave Tracy an ultimatum in a letter last Tuesday, August 10.
"As you have been previously informed, you are required to utilize an eBook from the list..." read the letter. "Failure to comply with this directive will result in your immediate termination of employment for insubordination."
Tracy never used a textbook previously for his class, and he didn't see the value in using one now. But losing his job for that was unexpected, he said.
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"This was a complete anomaly, and completely shocking to me," he said. The school president terminated him six weeks before the summer term ended.
Tracy worked in the animation business before he moved on to teach digital media art at the for-profit school for nearly 12 years. Many of his students said he was an excellent teacher. One of them, senior Justin Nouget, launched a Change.org petition calling on the institute to reverse its stance on Tracy and mandatory textbooks. So far it has collected 2,598 signatures.
As of press time, the Art Institute did not return requests for comment.