Update: Tuscon Unified School District Bans Books

I’ve been spending some time today reading up on ARS 15-111/15-112, the law that has banned ethnic studies in Arizona, from whence the book ban came, and the people that are fighting it.

I had an idea in my last post, to send copies of the banned books to the students in the Tucson Unified School District, and a lot of people really like the idea. I plan to reach out, to see if this is a doable thing, but first, I want to do some reading. I want to find out what the people of Tucson are doing, what they want done, before I jump in, going all White Knight. I want to be a good ally, not some obnoxious fool jumping in to drain resources. (and I hope you do, too.)

I know you’re itching for some action, though (who isn’t?) so here’s what I’ve found so far:

SaveEthnicStudies.org has a petition on their site for you to sign. Here’s the text of the petition:

“We the undersigned support the effort to save ethnic studies in the Tucson Unified School District. The Mexican American Studies program poses no threat to the state of Arizona or its education system. On the contrary, it provides a proven-effective method to educate students and motivate them to stay in school and become productive leaders in their community.

We stand in opposition to State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal’s attempt to withhold $15 million of state funding from the school district. This action is completely unwarranted given the results of the independent audit commissioned by the state, which found the program to be fully in compliance with Arizona’s ethnic studies ban. In fact, the audit recommended that the program be maintained as part of the core curriculum for high schools in the district.

The Mexican American Studies program should be applauded and replicated for its success, not destroyed by a pointless ban.”

So go sign it!

SaveEthnicStudies.org also has a ton of information: court documents, a background, a nice list of all the important players, news links, and other items of interest. If you’re an academic, journalist, or just a fan of primary documents, this is the place to go. Some pages, like the news page, haven’t been updated for a while, but the information is still very valuable for catching up on the background of this issue, especially if you’re not familiar with what’s been going on.

For discussion and links, check out the Save Ethnic Studies in Arizona Facebook page.

The National Council of La Raza is “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.  Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations, NCLR reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.  To achieve its mission, NCLR conducts applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas—assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. In addition, it provides capacity-building assistance to its Affiliates who work at the state and local level to advance opportunities for individuals and families.” Just glancing over, I can’t find a whole lot about the book ban in particular, but they’re the ones hosting the petition for SaveEthnicStudies.org, so it’s worth checking them out.

Occupy Tucson–look here for information on direct action, new items, and ways to support the community as it fights for itself.

Tucson Unified School District Bans Books

Remember when Arizona banned ethnic studies in the state’s schools?


The Tucson Unified school district has succumbed, deciding against fighting the measure, and has complied a list of books that are banned from the district’s classrooms.

from Brenda Norrell:

“Students said the banned books were seized from their classrooms and out of their hands, after Tucson schools banned Mexican American Studies, including a book of photos of Mexico. Crying, students said it was like Nazi Germany, and they were unable to sleep since it happened.”

This is unacceptable. Banning books is banning knowledge–just what is it that Tucson and Arizona officials do not want schoolchildren in Arizona to know?

Here is a shortlist of the books banned:

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by  Paolo Freire

Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña

Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Chicano!: The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales

500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures by Elizabeth Martinez

Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

Evidently, anything where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes.”

The Tucson Citizen reports that OccupyTUSD will be holding a daily protest from 4-6pm at the school district headquarters.

I plan to add these books to my reading list–anything that John Huppenthal, the Tea Partier that was elected in 2010 to Arizona’s statewide superintendent of public instruction post, is so afraid of. (And really? Who the fuck elects a Tea Partier to an education post? Apparently Arizona. Come on, Arizona. What. The. Fuck.)

You know what I’d like to do, though? I’d like to send copies of these books to the students that had theirs snatched away from them. Let’s do that. Would anybody else like to do that?

No Disablism After Yesterday’s Violence, Please.

Trigger warning for discussion of violence and disablism.

What Jared Loughner did is reprehensible. No one will dispute that. We struggle to understand why people do such things. We can’t. Taking someone’s life, the lives of several people, including a child, for no apparent reason is unfathomable. What we must not do is, in our attempt to explain and understand, dismiss Loughner as mentally ill. It serves no purpose. It is an (not-so) intellectual shortcut, one that only gets us lost, and harms millions of people and children that are differently abled.

I will not speculate on Loughner’s health. I will not dismiss his actions by calling him “crazy,” a “nutjob,” or “mentally ill.”

His actions, however, have reminded us of the consequences of hatred and bigotry. No matter what that hatred is based off of, it is dangerous to hate. Hatred kills. Yesterday, it killed several people, including a nine year old child. Let’s not channel that hatred to those who are differently abled. Making that assumption, that Loughner was differently-abled, and that his disability caused him to hate and to kill, does not satisfy our need to understand. It will not address the problems in our society; it only shifts that hate from one group to another.

I mourn for the loss of Christina Green, of Gabe Zimmerman, of Dorothy Morris, of Dorwin Stoddard, of Phyllis Schneck, and of John Roll. I mourn for their families, their friends, and their loved ones. I mourn for Gabrielle Giffords, and all of the other unnamed others who were injured. I mourn also for all those who are differently-abled, who will now be looked on with suspicion because of Jared Loughner’s actions. I hope that, by reading this post, you will now not be one of those.

I do not name the titles, stations, or ages of those killed yesterday, because I feel that, now as much as ever, we must remind ourselves that we are all people–all human beings deserving of respect, empathy, and love. We are who we are, and unfortunately our differences are more often degenerated and hated, rather than celebrated and loved. John, Christina, Gabe, Dorothy, Phyllis, and Dorwin are not faceless beings. These are people, and they are people that we lost to hatred yesterday. No more.

Crossposted at Local Voices.