Friday, January 20, 2012

Tucson School District Did NOT Ban Books!

The Tucson Unified School District did not ban the books being used in its Mexican-American Studies courses, contrary to reports on some online news sites (e.g., Salon). What was done in fact was probably worse.

It all started more than a year ago when the Arizona Legislature, led by a State Superintendent of Instruction looking for an issue that could vault him into the Attorney General’s office, passed a law that would exact severe financial penalties on any school district engaged in “advocating overthrow of the U.S. government” and offering courses for only certain ethnic groups. The law was targeted at the TUSD Mexican-American Studies courses.

A new state Superintendent, John Huppenthal (former systems analyst for a local power company and graduate of TUSD), took aim at the Mexican-American Studies program shortly after being elected to the office. He threatened to reclaim 10% of the state’s allocation to the district if the courses were not suspended. Rather than take the matter to court, the school board capitulated quickly, and administrators ordered workers to enter the classrooms while class was in session and collect the text books in front of the student’ eyes and place them in storage. No banning, just a transfer to the textbook depository.

What were the books?

  • Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado
  • 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures by Elizabeth Martinez
  • Message to AZTLAN by Corky Gonzales
  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow
Oddly, administrators informed teachers to “stay away” from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes.”
A petition drive to repeal the Arizona law that is being used to ban ethnic studies programs has been created. IN its first few weeks it attracted 11,000 signatures.

Gene V Glass
University of Colorado Boulder
Arizona State University

No comments:

Post a Comment