Who’s afraid of ‘The Tempest’?
Read it all here, and follow the links in it for more background.
As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today. According to district spokeperson Cara Rene, the books “will be cleared from all classrooms, boxed up and sent to the Textbook Depository for storage.”
Facing a multimillion-dollar penalty in state funds, the governing board of Tucson’s largest school district officially ended the 13-year-old program on Tuesday in an attempt to come into compliance with the controversial state ban on the teaching of ethnic studies.
The list of removed books includes the 20-year-old textbook “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” which features an essay by Tucson author Leslie Silko. Recipient of a Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award and a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, Silko has been an outspoken supporter of the ethnic studies program.
“By ordering teachers to remove ‘Rethinking Columbus,’ the Tucson school district has shown tremendous disrespect for teachers and students,” said the book’s editor Bill Bigelow. “This is a book that has sold over 300,000 copies and is used in school districts from Anchorage to Atlanta, and from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. It offers teaching strategies and readings that teachers can use to help students think about the perspectives that are too often silenced in the traditional curriculum.”
Another notable text removed from Tucson’s classrooms is Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” In a meeting this week, administrators informed Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” including the teaching of Shakespeare’s classic in Mexican-American literature courses.
Other banned books include “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by famed Brazilian educator Paolo Freire and “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” by Rodolfo Acuña, two books often singled out by Arizona state superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal, who campaigned in 2010 on the promise to “stop la raza.” Huppenthal, who once lectured state educators that he based his own school principles for children on corporate management schemes of the Fortune 500, compared Mexican-American studies to Hitler Jugend indoctrination last fall. [emphasis added]
‘The only other time a book of mine was banned was in 1986, when the apartheid government in South Africa banned ‘Strangers in Their Own Country,’ a curriculum I’d written that included a speech by then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela,’ said Bigelow, who serves as curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, and co-directs the online Zinn Education Project. ‘We know what the South African regime was afraid of. What is the Tucson school district afraid of?’
Here’s another article about the Mexican American Studies program being cut:
About 100 Cholla High School students converge on Tucson Unified School District offices to protest the board’s decision to end the Mexican American Studies program. The students walked four miles from their school Thursday morning to TUSD headquarters near downtown. PHOTO BY A.E. ARAIZA / ARIZONA DAILY STAR
More than 100 Cholla High Magnet School students walked out of class Thursday morning to protest the elimination of Mexican American Studies courses.
The students walked four miles from their southwest-side school to TUSD headquarters east of downtown.
TUSD administrators addressed the emotional crowd, encouraging students to return to class.
“We realize that they are in pain now - we acknowledge and value their feelings, but their focus must be on learning,” said TUSD Assistant Superintendent Lupita Cavazos-Garcia.
Believe me, they are learning a lot.