Jan 18 2012

Tucson Unified Bans Books to Comply with Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Ban

Writings by Buffy St. Marie, Rigoberta Menchu and even William Shakespeare were banned from Tucson, Arizona classrooms last week. The Tucson Unified School District board voted 4 to 1 last Tuesday to allow at least 50 works, including some art pieces, to be swept from schools in order to comply with a 2010 state law that prohibits ethnic studies courses. Tucson Unified was targeted by Arizona state superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal last June. Huppenthal said if the district did not remove material in violation of the law, it would lose 10% of its monthly budget. Many of the works now piled in storage are by writers of Mexican and Native American descent. Winona LaDuke’s “To the Women of the World: Our Future, Our Responsibility,” was confiscated from classrooms, as well as Sherman Alexi’s “Ten Little Indians.” Long respected text books now banned include the two-decades old, “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 years,” and Paolo Freire’s celebrated work, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” One Arizona teacher told the Wall Street Journal that Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” was banned because, “[t]he likelihood of avoiding discussions of colonization, enslavement, and racism were remote.” Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony,” another banned work, is a tribute to the importance of storytelling. Poignantly, it includes these lines: “Their evil is mighty/ but it can’t stand up to our stories./ So they try to destroy the stories/ let the stories be confused or forgotten.”

GUEST: Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, and a member of the Mexican American Studies -Tucson Unified School District community advisory board, and author of two books now bannd from Tucson classrooms, “Justice: A Question of Race” and “The X in La Raza”

Read Rodriguez’s recent article on the ban titled, “Arizona School Officials Caught on Tape “Urinating” on Mexican Students” can be read at his blog, http://drcintli.blogspot.com

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One Response to “Tucson Unified Bans Books to Comply with Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Ban”

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