2012-01-16 "Ethnic book ban in Arizona school district includes all books about Mexican-American history, even Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’; Ban is part of termination of ethnic studies program in Tucson" by Rheana Murray from "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS"
An Arizona school district largely made up of Mexican-Americans has been forced to slash its ethnic studies program, and now the books are going, too.
The Tucson Unified School District released the titles of its banned books on Friday, a lengthy list that removes every textbook dealing with Mexican-American history — and even Shakespeare.
The book ban is part of a curriculum change to avoid “biased, political and emotionally charged” teaching, CNN reported.
“The Tempest,” one of the playwright’s classics, is among the books removed, as teachers were urged to stay away from any works where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” the website Salon reported.
The school faces a multimillion-dollar fine if it doesn’t comply with the ban.
Even local titles were cut, including “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” which includes an essay by Tucson author Leslie Silko, and served as a textbook for 20 years.
“By ordering teachers to remove ‘Rethinking Columbus,’ the Tucson school district has shown tremendous disrespect for teachers and students,” said Bill Bigelow, the book’s editor.
“This is a book that has sold over 300,000 copies and is used in school districts from Anchorage to Atlanta, and from Portland, Ore. to Portland, Maine. It offers teaching strategies and readings teachers can use to help students think about the perspectives that are too often silenced in the traditional curriculum.”
“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” also will be banned. The two books were often targeted by state superintendent John Huppenthal, who pushed for the program’s cut.
The abolition of ethnic studies in the school district, where more than 60% of students come from Mexican-American backgrounds, has sparked a backlash since the judge announced the 13-year-old program’s termination on Tuesday.
Arizona State University professor Simon Ortiz expressed disappointment in a blog post.
“The banning explicitly and pointedly shows it is not only Mexican-American Studies and people and so-called illegal immigrants that are targeted, but indigenous studies and people as a whole,” he wrote.
Bigelow, who also works as an editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, says the books shouldn’t be forbidden.
“The only other time a book of mine was banned was in 1968, 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.
“We know what the South African regime was afraid of. What is the Tucson school district afraid of?”
In Phoenix, Carlos Galindo protests against the decision to cut the ethnic studies program in Tucson.