Rethinking Columbus Banned in Tucson

Dear Rethinking Schools friends,

Did you see the news last week? On Friday, we learned that our book Rethinking Columbus was banned — along with other books used in Tucson's Mexican American Studies program, including Paulo Freire's A Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Rodolfo Acuña's Occupied America, and Elizabeth Martinez's 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures. So we're in good company.

School authorities confiscated the books during class—boxed them up and hauled them off. As one student said, "We were in shock ... It was very heartbreaking to see that happening in the middle of class."

This is the latest chapter in the rightwing attempt to ban ethnic studies in Arizona. Last week, facing the loss of $15 million in state support, the governing board of Tucson's schools voted 4-1 to terminate the popular and successful Mexican American Studies program.

On Friday, I spoke to the Tucson school district's director of communications, who told me that the books had to be seized and carted away, because they were "evidence"—as if the teaching going on there were a crime scene. On Tuesday, the district protested that no books had been "banned"—although district officials admitted that they had been "boxed and stored" and could not be used in class. Sounds like "banning" to me.

Rethinking Schools is talking with teachers, students, and activists in Tucson about how we can help their struggle there. We will let you know as we gather ideas.

Do you have ideas to express support for Tucson teachers and students, and to organize opposition to Arizona's banning of Mexican American Studies and Tucson's confiscation of books in their curriculum? Please post ideas to the Rethinking Schools facebook page, or if you're not on facebook, e-mail me.

We'll follow up soon.

For more information, check out Jeff Biggers' Salon.com article, "Who's Afraid of 'The Tempest'?" Debbie Reese's, "Teaching Critical Thinking in Arizona: NOT ALLOWED," Biggers' Huffington Post interview with Tucson teacher Curtis Acosta, and my Rethinking Schools blog post.

Thanks for your important work.

Bill Bigelow
bill@rethinkingschools.org

 


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