Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Sampling of Children's Books used in the Mexican American Studies Program

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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The Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) was found in violation of a newly passed state law in Arizona. If TUSD did not shut down the program, John Huppenthal, the Arizona Superindent of Public Instruction, said he would withhold millions of dollars from TUSD. The law was one that prohibited instruction that "promoted resentment toward a class of people", and/or "promoted the overthrow of the United States government."

For decades, people who work in education and literature have asked publishers to publish books that reflect African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Latino/a American children, families and communities. We've seen some growth in those books, and a lot of those books were used in the MAS program that was declared in violation of that "promote resentment" law.

Research data shows that students in the program did better in school than students who were not in the program. Their attendance was better, their grades were better, and their graduation rates were better, too. Seems to me the program was doing wonderful things!

I wondered about the picture books and novels children who were in MAS courses have been reading since the program has been in TUSD, which is about ten years.  I've been looking over the list of books that the MAS program made available to students through the Learning Materials Center (LMC).

The books are housed in the Learning Materials Center, so I think they escaped being boxed up and taken away, but I wish for the well-being of students in TUSD who were in MAS courses, or who were receiving MAS instruction from MAS teachers (elementary students were served by MAS teachers who worked with classroom teachers who were infusing their lesson plans with Latino/a content), that the program had not been shut down. 

This is just a sampling of the books on the LMC list. There are over 400 books in this collection. As I studied it, I noticed the publication years are through the 1990s, but none in the 2000s, which leads me to think it is an incomplete list and that there are probably more than 400 at this point.

  • Ada, Alma Flor. The Christmas Tree/El Arbol de Navidad, Gathering the Sun
  • Anzaldua, Gloria. Friends from the Other Side/Amigos del Otro Lado
  • Cisneros, Sandra. Hair/Pelitos
  • Martinez, Victor. Parrot in the Oven
  • Mora, Pat. Confetti Poems for Children, The Desert is My Mother/El Desierto es Mi Madre, Tomas Y La Senora de la Biblioteca
  • Ortiz-Cofer, Judith. Una Isla Como Tu
  • Rohmer, Harriet. How We Came to the Fifth World/Como Vinimos Al Quinto Mundo, Just Like Me
  • Soto, Gary. Baseball in April and Other Stories, Chato's Kitchen, Snapshots from the Wedding, Too Many Tamales

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Dear Editors at the New York Times

Dear Editors at the New York Times,

Several days have passed since books were banned in Tucson. Why have you not covered that news? Maybe I've missed it?

I searched your site, and I see that you've covered the Jaipur Literature Festival in India where people are reading from Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. That is an important story to bring to your readers, but what about the censorship of books written by citizens of the United States?!

WHERE IS YOUR COVERAGE OF THAT?

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Update: Saturday, January 21, 1:45 PM CST

Tomorrow's New York Times will carry an editorial titled "Rejected in Tucson." It is available online here. Why is it an editorial, and not a front page news item? Why is it on the opinion piece instead of a news report on the front page?

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Friday, January 20, 2012

Three of the banned books were approved in 2007, but not properly?!

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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Earlier today, Mark Stegeman, president of the governing board of the Tucson Unified School District was on the Buckmaster radio program. A caller phoned in saying that he was looking at a document from the district that approves a list of books. That list includes three of the banned books: Critical Race Theory, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Stegeman's response to the caller was that the list was not properly approved.

I wish the host of the program would have pressed Stegeman on his answer. What does "proper" approval look like?!

Tucson Citizen uploaded a screen shot of the document, and, uploaded the document on Scribd. I downloaded it. It is signed by Patricia E. Lopez, Deputy Superintendent, and, Roger F. Pfeuffer, Superintendent. It is dated June 12, 2007.

Under the "Description and Justification" section is:
The attached list reflects the 2006-2007 Supplementary Textbooks & Technology materials used to supplement the Adopted Textbooks currently being used in the classroom.

Under the "Board Policy Considerations" section is:
Teachers may use these books with approval of the Deputy Superintendent with Governing Board's ratification during the school year in which they were added. 

Is Stegeman saying that the items (books, videos, lesson plan packets, transparencies, study guides, workbooks) on the list were only approved for use in 2006-2007?

If the answer is yes, then, are all the 102 items on that list also being boxed up and removed until they are "properly" approved?

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Video: What Huppenthal saw

 [Note: For a chronological and comprehensive list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District, go here. To go right to information about the National Mexican American Studies Teach-in, go here.] 
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In "What Huppenthal said" I wrote that I'd like to hear from the teacher of the Mexican American Studies class that Huppenthal visited. Today, Tucson Citizen uploaded an excerpt from Precious Knowledge.

The video is pretty damning of what Huppenthal is saying about that visit. You can view it at the bottom of the Tucson Citizen page here, or, on the ThreeSonorans YouTube channel


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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

National Association of Multicultural Education responds to closing of Mexican American Studies program

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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On Wednesday, January 18th, Christine Sleeter, President of the National Association of Multicultural Education, posted the following letter to the Save Ethnic Studies page on Facebook. She prefaces the letter by saying she submitted it to the Arizona Daily Star but it had not yet been published.

Dear Editors:

As a long-time educator, I am outraged that the Arizona Department of Education closed a program that has been highly successful in graduating Mexican American students, and is now censoring what can be taught about Mexican American history.

Mexican American students completing Tucson’s ethnic studies program had been graduating at a rate of over 90%, and entering college at a rate of about 80%. This is a remarkable record of closing a huge achievement gap. Its success is supported by social psychology research documenting that Black and Latino students who have a strong, positive ethnic identity and an understanding of racism and how it can be challenged tend to take education more seriously than those who do not.

Banning texts means censoring knowledge that resonates with and explains conditions of life Mexican American students experience everyday. Censorship flies in the face of education in a democracy. Ethnic Studies must be restored.

Christine Sleeter
President, National Association for Multicultural Education

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Mark Stegeman said...

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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Earlier today (January 19, 2012), Tucson Citizen uploaded a screen shot of a Facebook page that includes a remark made by Tucson Unified School District president, Mark Stegeman. Stegeman was asked about other "non-approved" books that have to be removed. He said:
This is the first example I know of, because external circumstances made this case urgent. But I suspect that TUSD is using many books which were never legally approved, in many different courses, and we have to track those books down and either remove them or go through proper curriculum approvals. Staff has already begun that search process.
I read that and sat back a minute, stunned at the idea that (presumably) some unfortunate staff person in TUSD is going to (presumably) visit every classroom and every teacher, carrying a list of books the board has approved.

I'm guessing that the staff person is going to need a great big trailer to put those unapproved books onto!

What is the search strategy? Where did the search start? With English teachers? What grade level? What school did they start with? I sure wouldn't want to be that staff person.

And can you imagine being a teacher in the Tucson Unified School District, learning that someone was going to come into your classroom to see what you've got on your shelves?!

When I taught elementary school, I had hundreds of children's books in my classroom. Most elementary school teachers have a lot of books in their classrooms. Did they have each one "legally approved" first? Did they, for example, get last year's winner of the Caldecott Medal approved before taking it into the classroom? (For those who don't know, last year's winner was A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead.)

And can you imagine being a first grader with A Sick Day for Amos McGee on your lap when that staff person comes into the room? What will be said to that first grader? Will the child be able to finish reading it? Or will it be taken out of the classroom immediately, as was done with the books that were removed from the Mexican American Studies classrooms?

Stegeman is either very smart or very stupid. His words put the entire district at risk. When he finds a bunch of unapproved books in classrooms, what is he going to do? He can't, of course, shut down a first grade classroom, but I wonder if there are pull-out programs that offer classes for specific reasons. Will those programs be shut down? Could the enforcement of this "legally approved" policy work in favor of the Mexican American Studies program?

Here's my screen shot of the Tucson Citizen screen shot:



Hang on, teachers. It's going to be a rough semester in the Tucson Unified School District.

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books


What Huppenthal said...

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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On January 18, 2012, the guest on Michel Martin's NPR "Tell Me More" program was Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona, John Huppenthal.

Democracy Now had him on its program, too, but they also had Richard Martinez on the program. Martinez is the lawyer for the teachers and students in Tucson.

On both programs, Huppenthal said pretty much the same things. As you might guess, he was pushed harder by Richard Martinez than he was by Michel Martin.

I wish that we (the public) had access to those lesson plans Huppenthal says teach students to resent white people.

And, I wish Huppenthal would provide his analysis of student performance. In their report, the auditors he hired to examine the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program included evidence that shows that students in the program outperformed students who were not in the program. (Note: Students in the classes reflect the demographics of the school district, which means students in the classes are Mexican American, white, American Indian....). Huppenthal rejected the findings of that audit. He did his own analysis. I want to see what he did!

Huppenthal apparently believes the auditors didn't know how to do their job in analyzing student performance. He said they were comparing oranges to apples, and that in his analysis he compared apples to apples. I want to see his analysis.

Huppenthal then goes on to say that students in Tucson Unified School District (not clear if it is the MAS program or the entire school) were not performing as well as students in other districts. That, he says is another of the reasons he had to shut down the MAS program. That seems to me like HE is comparing apples to oranges!  Is he comparing, for example, a district with a lower SES to one with a higher SES? If so, that's not fair.

In both interviews (NPR and Democracy Now), Huppenthal talks about Che Guevara's poster being on the wall in the classroom he visited. From what he says, the lesson he observed was not about Guevara, but had something to do with Benjamin Franklin. Huppenthal says that the teacher called Franklin racist. I wish that teacher was also on the show. I'd like to know more about what Huppenthal observed.

I'm wondering if the class Huppenthal was observing was studying Franklin's "Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind"? (Note: I found it by searching on "Was Benjamin Franklin racist?" The link I got was to "Did Benjamin Franklin have ulterior motives" which is a pdf housed at Fairfield University in Connecticut. I think the pdf was developed by Professor Dennis G. Hodgson.)

At the end of "Observations...", Franklin was talking about people coming to America. He wrote:
Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion. 
24.  Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Compexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.


In that passage, Franklin was trying to keep America for the English and American Indians. He didn't want Africans or Germans, Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians or Swedes here! Huppenthal is right in saying that Franklin was president of the Abolitionist Society in Pennsylvania, but that was later in life. Shouldn't students learn that, at one time, he owned slaves, and isn't it accurate to call that racist? Like I said, I wish we could hear from the teacher. Did he drop it at that? Or did he go on to talk more about Franklin's later life?

Huppenthal says a lot that I want to push back on, but I'll finish with this. Talking about Paolo Freire, Huppenthal said:
I mean, he says, explicitly—he says, explicitly, in his book that his—literally, the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that word "oppressed" is taken right out of—he says it right in the book—that word "oppressed" is taken right out of The Communist Manifesto, where he talks about—Karl Marx talks about the struggle of the history of man—the entire history of mankind being the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressors.
I've got a copy of it, and I can't find the place where Freire says that he got the word oppressed right out of The Communist Manifesto.  A small point, maybe, but Huppenthal did say he read the book. He accuses the teachers in the MAS program of teaching "to inflame feelings".  By linking Freire and the Mexican American Studies program with The Communist Manifesto, I think Huppenthal is trying to inflame feelings.

Maybe Huppenthal can tell us where he read Freire referencing The Communist Manifesto when he gives us access to the lesson plans and his analysis of student performance.

Update: Friday, January 20, 2012, 6:15 AM CST:
Kelly Howe, President of the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc, (PTO) posted a letter to NPR at the PTO website.  She did so to provide a more accurate description of Freire's ideas. Here's two excerpts.
Huppenthal also cast suspicion on the term "oppression." The word is a key term for Freire, who believed that as students hone their critical thinking skills they become savvier at recognizing oppressions. As a result, students seek to transform oppressions into more equitable power relationships. But Freire does not advocate "resentment" or demonization. Instead he values processes in which students gain tools to challenge oppressive systems and work lovingly but relentlessly toward new systems that recognize the full humanity of all. "The pursuit of full humanity," Freire writes, must be carried out "in fellowship and solidarity; therefore it cannot unfold in the antagonistic relationship between oppressors and oppressed" (85). Freire hoped for classrooms where everyone-oppressors and oppressed-might become more fully human.



Despite Huppenthal's claims that he has studied Freire, the interview revealed the Superintendent's embarrassing lack of knowledge about one of the core thinkers of contemporary education theory and practice.  

At the end of her letter, she invites Huppenthal to the PTO conference in May and offers to pay all his expenses so that he can deepen his knowledge of Freire.

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Copies of books in TUSD libraries?

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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Yesterday's press release from the Tucson Unified School District states that books used in the Mexican American Studies classes are still available to students through their libraries.

There are over 1,000 students in the classes. Now, I doubt that 1,000 students would head over to the library to check out Rethinking Columbus, but I wondered how many copies there are in the libraries.  It was easy to find out. Their library databases are online. Here's what I found (I wasn't able to access the database at Southwest Alternative High):

Catalina High has 0 copies
Cholla High has 1 copy
Howenstine High School has 0 copies
Palo Verde has 0 copies
Project M.O.R.E. School has 1 copy
Pueblo High has 2 copies
Rincon/University High has 0 copies
Sabino High has 0 copies
Sahuaro High has 0 copies
Santa Rita High has 0 copies
Tucson High has 0 copies

Amongst the TUSD high school libraries, there are 4 copies of Rethinking Columbus.

Perhaps, as I write, the librarians are entering additional copies (the ones taken from the classrooms) into their databases... Anybody know? Are those boxed copies being put on library shelves?

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

"Reports of TUSD book ban completely false and misleading"

 [Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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Yesterday afternoon, the Tucson Unified School District issued the following press release: "Reports of TUSD book ban completely false and misleading."

I've pasted the press release below, placing TUSD's contradictory statements in red. As you'll read, the press release says only seven books were boxed up and removed from the classrooms, but, the press release also says they removed materials from a file cabinet.

Neil Gaiman said it well on his twitter feed:
"Every BannedBookWeek there are people who claim books are never banned in the US. Sometimes they're just put in boxes." 

Another thing to note in the press release... Teachers can teach The Tempest as long as they do it appropriately. To understand the inappropriate way to teach it, according to the law passed in Arizona, listen to Curtis Acosta discussing his pedagogy with school administrators

Here's the press release:
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Reports of TUSD book ban completely false and misleading

Posted on: January 17, 2012
Contact: Cara Rene, Communication Director, (520) 225-6101, Cara.Rene@tusd1.org

Tucson Unified School District has not banned any books as has been widely and incorrectly reported.

Seven books that were used as supporting materials for curriculum in Mexcian American Studies classes have been moved to the district storage facility because the classes have been suspended as per the ruling by Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction John Huppenthal. Superintendent Huppenthal upheld an Office of Adminstriation Hearings’ ruling that the classes were in violation of state law ARS 15-112.

The books are:
  • Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado
  • 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez
  • Message to AZTLAN by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales
  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuna
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow
NONE of the above books have been banned by TUSD. Each book has been boxed and stored as part of the process of suspending the classes. The books listed above were cited in the ruling that found the classes out of compliance with state law.

Every one of the books listed above is still available to students through several school libraries. Many of the schools where Mexican American Studies classes were taught have the books available in their libraries. Also, all students throughout the district may reserve the books through the library system.

Other books have also been falsely reported as being banned by TUSD. It has been incorrectly reported that William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is not allowed for instruction. Teachers may continue to use materials in their classrooms as appropriate for the course curriculum. “The Tempest” and other books approved for curriculum are still viable options for instructors.

The suspended Mexican American Studies classes were converted last week to standard grade-level courses with a general curriculum featuring multiple perspectives, as per the directive by the state superintendent. Students remained in classes with their teachers, who are now teaching general curriculum.

As the district has taken action to comply with the order from the state, the goal of the district has continued to be to prevent disruption to student learning. Books used as instructional materials in the former Mexican American Studies classes were collected only from classrooms in schools where the courses were taught. Again, all the books are still available to students through the TUSD library system.

In one instance, at Tucson High Magnet School, materials were collected from a filing cabinet while students were in class though teaching did not stop during the process.

Tucson High Magnet School Principal Dr. Abel Morado acknowledges that the gathering of materials could have been accomplished outside of class time in all instances.

“We had a directive to be in compliance with the law and acted quickly to meet that need,” says Morado. “Part of that directive is communicating with teachers, students and parents, and collecting materials. We regret that in one instance materials were collected during class time.”

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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

TUSD vs The Tempest: To teach or not to teach

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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Yesterday afternoon, the Tucson Unified School District issued a press release that says reports of book banning are misleading. They specifically say that teachers can teach The Tempest. As this audio demonstrates, teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program can teach it if they can do it without talking about race or oppression. [Source for video: Three Sonorans YouTube channel]




"Once you begin to describe the Natives, and once you begin to delve into issues that are going to be from a critical race theory perspective, that's when you're not in that safe harbor, so to speak."


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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Authors banned in Tucson Unified School District respond

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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As I find them, I will add responses from authors whose books were taught in the now-outlawed Mexican American Studies program at Tucson Unified School District:

SHERMAN ALEXIE 

On January 17th, 2012, Sherman Alexie tweeted:


Teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program that was shut down last week are no longer allowed to teach two of his books:



On January 29, 2012, I read Alexie's response at The Progressive. He wrote:
Let's get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I'm pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I'm also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world. In the effort to vanish our books, Arizona has actually given them enormous power. Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.



RUDOLFO ANAYA (added on Jan 25, 2012):

On Friday, January 21, Rudolfo Anaya was on Jay Nightwolf's radio program. You can listen to the program by going to the Zinn Education Project website. Anaya is the author of Bless Me Ultima, and The Anaya Reader, two books that were taught in the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American Studies program that was shut down.







JIMMY SANTIAGO BACA

On January 28, 2012, I read Jimmy Santiago Baca's response at The Progressive. In part, he writes:
The banning in Tucson is a political tactic to oppress us, just the latest attempt of many to lie to us, to spread distortions, to enfeeble us by taking away our rights to education. They know that education is a way to achieve equality, to empower ourselves, to see ourselves with pride and enhance our self-esteem. Books that see us as intelligent, that reflect our experience in a healthy light, lend themselves to invigorating our resistance against injustice.
Six of his books were used in the now-banned Mexican American Studies program, including A Place to Stand.




BILL BIGELOW

On January 13, 2012, Bill Below wrote on the Rethinking Schools blog: 
Rethinking Schools learned today that for the first time in its more-than-20-year history, our book Rethinking Columbus was banned by a school district: Tucson, Arizona.  [...] What’s to fear? Rethinking Columbus offers teaching strategies and readings that teachers can use to help students consider perspectives that are too often silenced in the traditional curriculum. 

Teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program that was shut down last week are no longer allowed to teach Rethinking Columbus, a book he edited that includes essays, poems, and prose by American Indian writers.




JOSEPH BRUCHAC

In an email to me on January 17, 2012, Joseph Bruchac said:

In the long run, I think the actions of the Tucson
School Board may end up in a positive way--by
drawing attention back to RETHINKING COLUMBUS
and creating further awareness of the complex legacy
of Cristobal Colon. Either this was their intention all
along (closet progressives that they are on the school
board) or (thinking in terms of nautical metaphors), they
are attempting to save the sinking ship of the myth of
heroic European colonialism by an action as effective as
bailing with a tea cup!
His essay, "A Friend of the Indians" is in Rethinking Columbus, a book that teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program are no longer allowed to teach.

RICHARD DELGADO and JEAN STEFANCIC (added Jan 31, 2012):

On January 31, 2012, I read Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic's response at The Progressive. Here's an excerpt:
Young minds will not learn about critical race theory or Latino history or the historic struggles of their predecessors for school desegregation, immigration reform, and equal rights. They may learn about them piecemeal, but without an overarching framework, it will be difficult for them to develop a comprehensive view of race in American society. 
Their book, Critical Race Theory, was taught in the now-shut down Mexican American Studies department at Tucson Unified School District.





JUNOT DIAZ (added January 29, 2012):

On January 29, 2012, I read Junot Diaz's response at The Progressive:
This is covert white supremacy in the guise of educational standard-keeping--nothing more, nothing less. Given the sharp increase of anti-Latino rhetoric, policies, and crimes in Arizona and the rest of the country, one should not be surprised by this madness and yet one is. The removal of those books before those students' very eyes makes it brutally clear how vulnerable communities of color and our children are to this latest eruption of cruel, divisive, irrational, fearful, and yes racist politics. Truly infuriating. And more reason to continue to fight for a just society. 
His book, Drown was taught in the now-banned Mexican American Studies program.



MARTIN ESPADA (added January 31, 2012)

Earlier today, I read Martin Espada's response at the Progressive website. He said, in part:
In the end, this is just another bomb threat. All they have done is force us to evacuate the building. We will gather ourselves in the dark, and keep reading to each other in whatever light we can find.
His book, Zapata's Disciple: Essays, can no longer be taught by teachers who taught in the now-banned Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District.




DAGOBERTO GILB (added January 31, 2012)

Yesterday, I read Dagoberto's response at The Progressive website:
What subversive information did those Tucson students learn? What is kept from the government-approved textbooks and classrooms all across the West?: You don’t have to be from somewhere else more important and better to be a lawyer or an artist or a doctor or scientist. You don’t have to leave your culture. You don’t have to be ashamed that your parents struggled with English. We don’t have to accept being only the cooks and maids, custodians and gardeners.
Two of his books are on the Cambium audit and can no longer be taught by the teachers in the now-banned Mexican American Studies Department.





SUZAN HARJO

In an email to me on January 18, 2012, Susan Harjo said:
The banned books and other materials removed from the Tucson public schools are a good start for a required reading list. I consider it a mark of distinction to be among the banned authors for my part of Rethinking Columbus. I am honored to be in the company of other writers who are targeted in Arizona's war on ethnic studies. I hope their reckless actions help raise awareness among more and more people of good will about what this last gasp of white supremacy is doing to our children and young people. 
Her essay, "We Have No Reason to Celebrate" is in Rethinking Columbus, a book that teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program are no longer allowed to teach.

Update, January 25th, 2012: Harjo wrote an extended essay for Indian Country Today. For more on her response to being banned, see Rethinking Columbus: Book Banning in Tucson.

WINONA LADUKE (added January 25, 2012):

On January 21, 2012, Winona LaDuke's response to being banned was published at INFORUM. Her essay is in Rethinking Columbus, one of the books boxed up and removed from classrooms in Tucson Unified School District. Rethinking Columbus is no longer being taught in TUSD. See LaDuke's "On Being Banned in Tucson."

WILLIAM L. KATZ

On January 18, 2012, via email, I received William L. Katz's response:
As the writer of two essays contributed from my Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage to Rethinking Columbus, a former public school teacher for fourteen years, and the writer of forty history books that have earned praise from sources ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Howard Zinn, I can only hope this pathetic censorship of ideas and knowledge that aims to keep young people uninformed about their lives, their society and the struggles that shaped their country and world, that this stupid decision in Arizona, will finally lead to a resounding victory for an inclusive, multicultural curriculum. We all deserve that, to read what we want, to learn what we need, and to understand our history not as patriotic, tasteless pablum, but something substantial and true enough to enable us to live in a country and world that was built by women and men of every race and region, and to appreciate and enjoy our neighbors. Part of this is learning that women and men were not handed democracy and justice but often had fight and sometimes die for it, and this is particularly true if they were in the way of those bent on conquest, exploitation, or just the pursuit of obscene profits.

His essay, "Black Indians and Resistance" is in Rethinking Columbus, a book that teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program are no longer allowed to teach.

MATT DE LA PENA

On January 16th, Matt de la Pena wrote on his blog:
A truly scary situation. Tucson schools have just “shut down” all courses related to Mexican American Studies (in essence, banning Chicano authors). If you’re familiar with Tucson’s racial makeup, you know this means that literally thousands of Chicano students will no longer be allowed to see a reflection of themselves in literature. The teachers literally had to pack up the books and remove them from their classrooms.

Teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program that was shut down last week are no longer allowed to teach his book, Mexican WhiteBoy.


BOB PETERSON (added Jan 31, 2012)

On January 16, 2012, Bob Peterson wrote on his blog:
What’s most disturbing is the banning’s broader context, in particular Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation and the move across the country toward scripted curriculum that too often ignores students’ cultural heritages and that undermines the ability to promote critical thinking. On a more positive note, however, the banning can be seen as the flailing of small-minded bigots attempting to derail multicultural, anti-racist curriculum. In this sense, the move is similar to the anti-gay rantings of Santorum and Company. 
Teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program that was shut down last week are no longer allowed to teach Rethinking Columbus, a book he edited that includes essays, poems, and prose by American Indian writers.



CORNEL PEWEWARDY

On January 20, 2012, Cornel Pewewardy sent me the following comment by email:

The "Empire" Strikes Back via a Neoliberal Agenda

His essay, "A Barbie-Doll Pocahontas" is in Rethinking Columbus, a book that teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program are no longer allowed to teach.


ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ (added on Jan 25, 2012):

On Friday, January 21, Roberto Rodriguez was on Jay Nightwolf's radio program. You can listen to the program by going to the Zinn Education Project website. Rodriguez is the author of Justice: A Question of Race and The X in La Raza II (I am unable to locate a cover of the book; please send me a link or image), both of which were used in the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American Studies program that was shut down.



LUIS ALBERTO URREA (added January 29, 2012)

On January 29, 2012, I read Luis Alberto Urrea's response at The Progressive website:

The issue seems to be the power boys and girls are afraid that studying MacArthur winning Tohon O'odam poet Ofelia Zepeda is un-American. Cult-like. Divisive. Yes, that's right--Indians are out too. Sherman Alexie, that notorious wetback, has been ba--ed, boxed. As well as that notorious narco, Guillermo Shakespeare. Thoreau--well. Come on. When isn't Thoreau banned? I hereby make him an Honorary Homeboy.

Urrea is the author of five books on the list of works taught by teachers in the now-banned Mexican American Studies program, including The Devil's Highway: A True Story. 

 
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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mexican American Studies Department Reading List

[Note: For a chronological and comprehensive list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District, go here. To go right to information about the National Mexican American Studies Teach-in, go here.]
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Book list below; author responses to their books being banned is here:
Authors banned in Tucson respond

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Cambium Learning, Inc. conducted an audit of the Mexican American Studies program in Tucson. The findings were published in May 2, 2011. The audit took place between March 7, 2011 and May 2, 2011. [Update, Jan 16, 7:35 PM: Cambium was hired by Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal, district to do the audit. Cambium recommended the Mexican American Studies program be continued. The superintendent disagreed with the audit findings, and shut the program down.]

The following books are listed on Appendix Item Mexican American Studies Department Reading List of the audit of the Mexican American Studies program. I am presenting the lists here, replicating the lists as shown on the audit. News stories indicate that book in the Mexican American Studies classrooms were boxed up and removed from classrooms last week. At this point is is not known if all the books listed below were boxed and removed. They were placed in storage.

For critical discussion, see "Teaching Critical Thinking in Arizona: NOT ALLOWED".
The report (in pdf) is available here: Curriculum Audit of the Mexican American Studies Department, Tucson Unified School District, May 2, 2011.

High School Course Texts and Reading Lists Table 20: American Government/Social Justice Education Project 1, 2 - Texts and Reading Lists
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (1998), by B. Bigelow and B. Peterson
  • The Latino Condition: A Critical Reader (1998), by R. Delgado and J. Stefancic
  • Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (2001), by R. Delgado and J. Stefancic
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000), by P. Freire
  • United States Government: Democracy in Action (2007), by R. C. Remy
  • Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (2006), by F. A. Rosales
  • Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1990), by H. Zinn

Table 21: American History/Mexican American Perspectives, 1, 2 - Texts and Reading Lists
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos (2004), by R. Acuna
  • The Anaya Reader (1995), by R. Anaya
  • The American Vision (2008), by J. Appleby et el.
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (1998), by B. Bigelow and B. Peterson
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo (1992), by J. A. Burciaga
  • Message to Aztlan: Selected Writings (1997), by C. Jiminez
  • De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views Multi-Colored Century (1998), by E. S. Martinez
  • 500 Anos Del Pueblo Chicano/500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures (1990), by E. S. Martinez
  • Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human (1998), by R. Rodriguez
  • The X in La Raza II (1996), by R. Rodriguez
  • Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (2006), by F. A. Rosales
  • A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (2003), by H. Zinn

Course: English/Latino Literature 7, 8
  • Ten Little Indians (2004), by S. Alexie
  • The Fire Next Time (1990), by J. Baldwin
  • Loverboys (2008), by A. Castillo
  • Women Hollering Creek (1992), by S. Cisneros
  • Mexican WhiteBoy (2008), by M. de la Pena
  • Drown (1997), by J. Diaz
  • Woodcuts of Women (2000), by D. Gilb
  • At the Afro-Asian Conference in Algeria (1965), by E. Guevara
  • Color Lines: "Does Anti-War Have to Be Anti-Racist Too?" (2003), by E. Martinez
  • Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy (1998), by R. Montoya et al.
  • Let Their Spirits Dance (2003) by S. Pope Duarte
  • Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz (1997), by M. Ruiz
  • The Tempest (1994), by W. Shakespeare
  • A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (1993), by R. Takaki
  • The Devil's Highway (2004), by L. A. Urrea
  • Puro Teatro: A Latino Anthology (1999), by A. Sandoval-Sanchez & N. Saporta Sternbach
  • Twelve Impossible Things before Breakfast: Stories (1997), by J. Yolen
  • Voices of a People's History of the United States (2004), by H. Zinn

Course: English/Latino Literature 5, 6
  • Live from Death Row (1996), by J. Abu-Jamal
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven (1994), by S. Alexie
  • Zorro (2005), by I. Allende
  • Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1999), by G. Anzaldua
  • A Place to Stand (2002), by J. S. Baca
  • C-Train and Thirteen Mexicans (2002), by J. S. Baca
  • Healing Earthquakes: Poems (2001), by J. S. Baca
  • Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems (1990), by J. S. Baca
  • Black Mesa Poems (1989), by J. S. Baca
  • Martin & Mediations on the South Valley (1987), by J. S. Baca
  • The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America's Public Schools (19950, by D. C. Berliner and B. J. Biddle
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo (1992), by J. A Burciaga
  • Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States (2005), by L. Carlson & O. Hijuielos
  • Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing up Latino in the United States (1995), by L. Carlson & O. Hijuielos
  • So Far From God (1993), by A. Castillo
  • Address to the Commonwealth Club of California (1985), by C. E. Chavez
  • Women Hollering Creek (1992), by S. Cisneros
  • House on Mango Street (1991), by S. Cisneros
  • Drown (1997), by J. Diaz
  • Suffer Smoke (2001), by E. Diaz Bjorkquist
  • Zapata's Discipline: Essays (1998), by M. Espada
  • Like Water for Chocolate (1995), by L. Esquievel
  • When Living was a Labor Camp (2000), by D. Garcia
  • La Llorona: Our Lady of Deformities (2000), by R. Garcia
  • Cantos Al Sexto Sol: An Anthology of Aztlanahuac Writing (2003), by C. Garcia-Camarilo, et al.
  • The Magic of Blood (1994), by D. Gilb
  • Message to Aztlan: Selected Writings (2001), by Rudolfo "Corky" Gonzales
  • Saving Our Schools: The Case for Public Education, Saying No to "No Child Left Behind" (2004) by Goodman, et al.
  • Feminism is for Everybody (2000), by b hooks
  • The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1999), by F. Jimenez
  • Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools (1991), by J. Kozol
  • Zigzagger (2003), by M. Munoz
  • Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature (1993), by T. D. Rebolledo & E. S. Rivero
  • ...y no se lo trago la tierra/And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (1995), by T. Rivera
  • Always Running - La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. (2005), by L. Rodriguez
  • Justice: A Question of Race (1997), by R. Rodriguez
  • The X in La Raza II (1996), by R. Rodriguez
  • Crisis in American Institutions (2006), by S. H. Skolnick & E. Currie
  • Los Tucsonenses: The Mexican Community in Tucson, 1854-1941 (1986), by T. Sheridan
  • Curandera (1993), by Carmen Tafolla
  • Mexican American Literature (1990), by C. M. Tatum
  • New Chicana/Chicano Writing (1993), by C. M. Tatum
  • Civil Disobedience (1993), by H. D. Thoreau
  • By the Lake of Sleeping Children (1996), by L. A. Urrea
  • Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life (2002), by L. A. Urrea
  • Zoot Suit and Other Plays (1992), by L. Valdez
  • Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert (1995), by O. Zepeda

UPDATE, Monday, January 16, 2012
The list above is not complete. As I learn of other titles that have been boxed, I will add them to the list.
  • Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  • Yo Soy Joaquin/I Am Joaquin, by Rodolfo Gonzales
  • Into the Beautiful North, by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • The Devil's Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea

UPDATE, Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I'm inserting a list of items taught by Curtis Acosta in his Social Justice course.

Non-Fiction - Personal Reflections
  • My Dungeon Shook by James Baldwin
  • La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness by Gloria Anzaldua
Short Stories
  • Selections from Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie
  • Eleven by Sandra Cisneros
  • Vatolandia by Ana Castillo
  • Love in L.A. by Dagoberto Gilb
  • Lindo y Querido by Manuel Munoz
  • Brisa by Dagoberto Gilb
  • Aurora by Juno Diaz
  • Lost Girls by Jane Yolen
  • Selection from Tuff by Paul Beatty
Counter Story Telling and Cultura Through Teatro 
  • And Where Was Pancho Villa When You Really Needed Him? by Silviana Wood 
  • Culture Clash in America and Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy by Culture Clash
Shakespeare, Colonization, and Critical Race Theory
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Immigration - La Lucha Sigue
  • The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
Resistance Through Rhetoric
  • The Puerto Rican Dummy and the Merciful Son by Martin Espada
  • Jesse Jackson's speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention
  • Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
  • Speech at the Afro-Asian Conference by Ernesto "Che" Guevara
  • "Women, Power, and Revolution" by Kathleen Cleaver
  • "Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation" by Angela Davis
  • Message to Aztlan by Corky Gonzales
  • Message to the Grass Roots by Malcom X
  • "Beyond Vietnam" and Where We Go From Here by Martin Luther King Jr.
  • "Does 'Anti-War' Have to be 'Anti-Racist', too? by Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez
Resistance/Revolution in Spoken Word, Slam Poetry, and Hip Hop
Poetry
  • Selections from William Carlos Williams, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Ana Castillo, Tracy Morris, Paul Beatty
Hip Hop
Selections from Olmeca, Sihuatl-De, Dead Prez, Common, Kanye West, KRS-1, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Rage Against the Machine, etc.

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In the video below, teacher Yolanda Sotelo (she taught in the Mexican American Studies program that was shut down last week) discusses novels she can no longer teach. They were boxed and removed. Teachers have been told that they will be monitored to make sure they do not teach those novels. Ironically, if Sotelo was teaching at Tucson's college prep school, she'd be able to teach Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me Ultima. [Video source: ThreeSonorans channel on YouTube]




Update: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 7:00 AM CST

Brenda Norrell of Censored News has video interviews of three students at her site. Interviews were recorded at an MLK event yesterday.

In the first one, the student describes how shelves were cleared of books during class.  In the second, the student points to a double standard. It is only the Mexican American Studies class and books in those classrooms that are being targeted. Those books include more than just ones by Latino/a authors. Amongst the curriculum are books by African American, Asian American, American Indian, feminist, and progressive writers. Other ethnic studies programs are being left alone.  In the third video, the student talks about the importance for all Americans of knowing the histories of all Americans.

Update: Tuesday, January 17, 6:40 PM CST

There are conflicting reports on how many books were removed. Cara Rene, spokesperson for the Tucson Unified School District says:
"The books... have been moved to the district storage facility because the classes have been suspended as per the ruling by Arizona Superintendent (of) Public Instruction John Huppenthal," 
The Tempest was not removed. According to the news story at Arizona Central (Update, 1/29/2012: Listen to an audio discussion between Curtis Acosta, MAS teacher, and TUSD administrators, discussing how he can and can not teach Tempest),
Rene said the seven books removed from the classrooms were: "Critical Race Theory" by Richard Delgado; "500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures" edited by Elizabeth Martinez; "Message to AZTLAN" by Rodolfo 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; and "Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years" by Bill Bigelow.


UPDATE, TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 9:20 PM, CST:

The Tucson Unified School District website has a statement with contradictory statements about the books they boxed up.  Below, I'm reproducing the statement in its entirety, and I am placing the contradictory statements in red. You can find the statement here. The copy below is accompanied with "Last updated: 01/17/2012 14:32:39".

Reports of TUSD book ban completely false and misleading

Posted on: January 17, 2012
Contact: Cara Rene, Communication Director, (520) 225-6101, Cara.Rene@tusd1.org

Tucson Unified School District has not banned any books as has been widely and incorrectly reported.

Seven books that were used as supporting materials for curriculum in Mexcian American Studies classes have been moved to the district storage facility because the classes have been suspended as per the ruling by Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction John Huppenthal. Superintendent Huppenthal upheld an Office of Adminstriation Hearings’ ruling that the classes were in violation of state law ARS 15-112.

The books are:
  • Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado
  • 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez
  • Message to AZTLAN by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales
  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuna
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow
NONE of the above books have been banned by TUSD. Each book has been boxed and stored as part of the process of suspending the classes. The books listed above were cited in the ruling that found the classes out of compliance with state law.

Every one of the books listed above is still available to students through several school libraries. Many of the schools where Mexican American Studies classes were taught have the books available in their libraries. Also, all students throughout the district may reserve the books through the library system.

Other books have also been falsely reported as being banned by TUSD. It has been incorrectly reported that William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is not allowed for instruction. Teachers may continue to use materials in their classrooms as appropriate for the course curriculum. “The Tempest” and other books approved for curriculum are still viable options for instructors.

The suspended Mexican American Studies classes were converted last week to standard grade-level courses with a general curriculum featuring multiple perspectives, as per the directive by the state superintendent. Students remained in classes with their teachers, who are now teaching general curriculum.

As the district has taken action to comply with the order from the state, the goal of the district has continued to be to prevent disruption to student learning. Books used as instructional materials in the former Mexican American Studies classes were collected only from classrooms in schools where the courses were taught. Again, all the books are still available to students through the TUSD library system.

In one instance, at Tucson High Magnet School, materials were collected from a filing cabinet while students were in class though teaching did not stop during the process.

Tucson High Magnet School Principal Dr. Abel Morado acknowledges that the gathering of materials could have been accomplished outside of class time in all instances.

“We had a directive to be in compliance with the law and acted quickly to meet that need,” says Morado. “Part of that directive is communicating with teachers, students and parents, and collecting materials. We regret that in one instance materials were collected during class time.”


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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

Teaching critical thinking in Arizona: NOT ALLOWED

 [Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]
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Very early on Saturday, January 15, 2012, I read an article in Salon that said that Rethinking Columbus and the Tempest were being boxed up and removed from classrooms in Tucson, Arizona. They were part of the curriculum of the Mexican American Studies program in the school district. Due to the objection of some people in Arizona, that program has now been shut down.

On January 13, 2012, Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools wrote about Rethinking Columbus being removed. Within its pages are items by Native people, including
  • Suzan Shown Harjo's "We Have No Reason to Celebrate"
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie's "My Country, 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying"
  • Joseph Bruchac's "A Friend of the Indians"
  • Cornel Pewewardy's "A Barbie-Doll Pocahontas"
  • N. Scott Momaday's "The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee"
  • Michael Dorris's "Why I'm Not Thankful for Thanksgiving"
  • Leslie Marmon's "Ceremony"
  • Wendy Rose's "Three Thousand Dollar Death Song"
  • Winona LaDuke's "To the Women of the World: Our Future, Our Responsibility"


As the day progressed, I began asking colleagues if anyone had a complete list of the books being removed. As of now (Sunday, January 15, 2012), several people are trying to find out more about the books that are being taken away.

One colleague pointed me to an audit of the program that includes a lengthy list of books that auditors saw in the classrooms. It includes Sherman Alexie's Ten Little Indians and Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fist Fight in Heaven; it also includes Ofelia Zepeda's Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert



One thing I noted in my quick read of the audit is that the students in the program outperformed students who were not in the program. Further research led me to a broadcast on Democracy Now. On December 29, 2011, Amy Goodman quoted from the audit:
[A] Tucson Unified School District audit found its Mexican American Studies program gives students a measurable advantage over their peers. The audit was conducted by David Scott, the district’s director of accountability and research. In it, he wrote, quote, "Juniors taking a Mexican American Studies course are more likely than their peers to pass the [state’s standardized] reading and writing ... test if they had previously failed those tests in their sophomore year," and that "Seniors taking a Mexican American Studies course are more likely to persist to graduation than their peers."

The Mexican American Studies program was built on critical thinking. Students learned how to think critically, to question texts, to look at moments in history and portrayals of Latino Americans and American Indians from more than one perspective.

The books used in the program are terrific. Some are award winning children's literature, like Matt de la Pena's Mexican WhiteBoy




Some are by writers who are not Latino or American Indian. An example of that is Jane Yolen's Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I asked Jane yesterday morning if she knew whether or not her book was being boxed up. She hadn't heard anything. 



The list has some nonfiction on it, too. The auditors said that some of the books are not age-appropriate. According to the auditors, they belong in college, not high school classrooms. That, in my view, is bull. It is a convenient rationale for targeting those books that allows them to hide their fear of critical thinking. Nonfiction titles on the list include:
  • Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States
  • Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools
  • bell hooks' Feminism is for Everybody 

Opponents of the program argued that the classes were promoting resentment toward a race or class of people. That race or class of people is white.

In their (perhaps) unspoken words, thinking critically about America is dangerous and threatening to the existing power structure.

I'm pretty sure that Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie is not on the list. Towards the end of that story, Pa learns that the federal government wants squatters (he doesn't use that word) to get off of Indian land. They load the wagon and as they drive away, they look back and see that that "their little log house and the little stable sat lonely in the stillness." Pa says that it is a great country, "but there will be wild Indians and wolves here for many a long day."  Books like Little House teach readers to resent a race or class of people, too, but I doubt it is being removed from classrooms in Tucson. 

I'll post updates as I get them...  If you're in Tucson and saw books being boxed up, please write to me and provide me with titles. You can use my email address (dreese.nambe@gmail.com) or the Contact option in the menu bar above, or, if you prefer anonymity, use the comment box below.

UPDATE, JAN 15, 2012, 12:50 PM, CST:
Due to queries, I uploaded a list of the books listed in the audit:
Mexican American Studies Department Reading List

UPDATE, JAN 15, 2012, 1:10 PM, CST:
Brenda Norrell of Censored News is covering the story and includes a response from Roberto Rodriguez.


UPDATE, JAN 15, 2012, 4:20 PM, CST:
For further reading:
  • House Bill 2281 -  "public school pupils should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people." 
  • Arizona District Court document on the Mexican American Studies program.
UPDATE, JAN 16, 2012, 6:50 AM, CST:
Precious Knowledge is a documentary about the Mexican American Studies program that includes powerful footage of students and teachers in the program, and, footage of state administrators who characterize the program and people in it as anti-American.  See the trailer and information about the documentary at Precious Knowledge.

Below is a 30 minute clip about the program. Some of it is from Precious Knowledge. The young man who speaks at the 1:58 mark talks about administrators coming into his classroom last week on Friday and directing teachers to box their books. One young woman who works in the library as an aide says that library copies of books will likely remain on the shelves, but that the teachers cannot teach the books. The young woman at 22:20 said it was heartbreaking to watch their teachers box the books. It concludes in a classroom. The teacher speaks with great emotion, which leads me to think that this footage was filmed after House Bill 2281 was passed. [Video source: Three Sonorans channel on YouTube]



Below is a clip of teacher, Yolanda Sotelo, talking about books and the events of last week. Administrators will visit classes to make sure the teachers are not teaching the banned books. [Video source: Three Sonorans channel on YouTube]




UPDATE: MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2011, 2:05 PM CST:
The Save Ethnic Studies website has an extensive archive of court documents, statements, transcripts, student work. 

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For ongoing AICL coverage, read through AICL from January 15 to the present or go directly to specific posts by clicking on links below:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


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FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books