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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

[haw-info] Arizona Banned Books Teach In on February 1

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,


Arizona’s HB 2281 goes into effect today, February 1, 2012, and we are asking you to join a national Teach In and take a few minutes in your classes or other places to read a passage from one of the banned books.


This bill has taken Mexican American Studies out of school curriculum especially in the Tucson Unified School District. It is also a threat to ethnic studies in public education at all levels. The TUSD has recently gone into classrooms and boxed up books considered to be part of this program (while students were in classes). They have also regulated that certain themes in other books cannot be taught. For example, if Shakespeare’s The Tempest is taught, the theme of oppression cannot be. The books being “banned” are from a variety of writers, not just those in Mexican Studies.


The seven books that were removed from TUSD classrooms 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
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Fiere
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson
Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña


There was some confusion in the news media about other works, such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Rodolfo Anaya’s Bless, Me Ultima, being removed as well. While some teachers, and administrators, questioned whether they could continue to use such works, and were told that they should “stay away from any units where race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes” the books were not removed from the classrooms.


This article may help clarify
From the January 17 Tucson Weekly “TUSD Banning Books? Well Yes, and No, and Yes



The American Library Association provides the following definitions for challenged vs. banned books:


“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.”


Since the books were removed from the curriculum, even if they remain in the library, they fit the ALA’s definition of a ban.


More information at https://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/index.cfm


From American Indians in Children’s Literature (Debbie Reese)


Nation-wide responses to the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District




In Tucson, students walked out of classes on Tuesday and held an Ethnic Studies Teach-In off school grounds. Some were suspended for walking out, and rather than stay home yesterday, they attended Mexican American courses at the University of Arizona. Those are localized educational responses to the shut-down of their classes.


A nation-wide educational response in the form of a National Teach-In will take place on February 1st. Some things people can do include the following:

  • View excerpts--specially selected for the Teach In--from Precious Knowledge, the documentary about the MAS program that will be aired on PBS in May.
  • In elementary classrooms or library read-alouds to elementary-aged children, read aloud from one of the picture books used in the MAS program. Two suggestions are Pam Mora's The Desert is My Mother, Gary Soto's Snapshots from the Wedding.  
  • With older students, introduce them to Matt de la Pena's Mexican WhiteBoy or Sandra Cisnero's House on Mango Street. 
  • Share what you know with your family, friends, and colleagues. 
  • Purchase a copy of Rethinking Columbus or one of the other books that was boxed up and removed from classrooms, or, one of the books that was used in the program.
  • Purchase a copy of Precious Knowledge. To order, write to preciousknowledgedvd@gmail.com. (Individual copy is $28. Public library copy is $40. Rights for university or public performance are $200.)
  • Sign the petition set up by Norma Gonzales. She taught in the MAS program.
  • Donate to the fund to support the work to fight the ban.

Another option is to watch "A Teach-in on Tucson" that will take place at Georgia State University's College of Education. Portions of it will be streamed online. Initial information is



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