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Sharmila Rudrappa, Director BUR 480, Mailcode A2200, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6427

Educators, students protest Tucson schools’ sacking of books taught in banned ethnic studies program

Posted: February 27, 2012
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Media Contacts: Snehal Shingavi (snehal.shingavi@mail.utexas.edu), Sona Shah (sona.shah@austin.utexas.edu) or Irene Garza 323-868-2502/ (irene.garza@utexas.edu)

AUSTIN, TX (February 27, 2012) – Members of the UT community, including faculty, students, and staff will gather at the UT Campus on Feb 29 to protest the decision by a Tucson school district that prohibits the teaching of dozens of books used in the now banned Mexican American studies program.

Dozens of educators, students,  and concerned community members will read aloud from several of the banned books at University of Texas campus West Mall near the fountain on Wednesday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Student groups and Centers in support of the Read-In include: La Colectiva Femenil, Asian Desi Pacific Islander Collective (APAC), Longhorn American Indian Council, Students for Equity & Diversity, Queer People of Color and Allies, the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), Center for Asian American Studies (CAAS) and Center for Women & Gender Studies (WGS).

While Tucson Unified School District officials claim the books are not officially banned, a wide range of texts were collected and ordered removed to a district storage facility, and former Mexican American Studies teachers have been barred from using the texts in the classroom. Arizona Ethnic Studies Network believes the decision to prohibit teachers from using the texts has resulted in a de facto ban on these books, which raises the specter of free speech violations.

The Feb. 29 event at the University of Texas campus is part of a national read-in being held in support of “ethnic studies, critical pedagogy and thoughtful education.” Teachers, civil rights activists and authors from across the country have strongly criticized the passage of  Arizona House Bill 2281, which led to the shutdown of the TUSD Mexican American studies program in January.

In March, a caravan of activists and authors will leave Houston, Texas and visit several cities along the way in an effort called Librotraficantes, which has pledged to deliver copies of the banned books to students in the Tucson area as part of the creation of a series of “underground libraries”. There will be an informational table at the UT Read-In where books from the “banned book” list can be donated for the Librotraficante initiative.

Arizona School Superintendent John Huppenthal and Attorney General Tom Horne declared the Mexican American Studies program in Tucson illegal and Huppenthal threatened to withhold $15 million in state education funding if TUSD district officials did not terminate the program–despite the results of an independent audit that concluded the program did not violate HB 2281.

Arizona Ethnic Studies has created an Internet clearinghouse listing state and national efforts in support of ethnic Studies.

Here’s a list of some of the books banned by TUSD:

  • A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  • Occupied America by Rodolfo Acuña
  • Lone Ranger and Tonto by Sherman Alexie
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo by Jose Antonio Burciaga
  • So Far From God by Anna Castillo
  • Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros
  • Feminism is for Everybody by Bell Hooks
  • I am Joaquin by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere
  • Rethinking Columbus, edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson
  • Nobody’s Son by Luis Alberto Urrea

Other links related to the banning of the TUSD ethnic studies program:

1. Text of HB 2281:
http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/hb2281s.pdf

2. The Cambium Report: This is the audit commissioned and ignored by
Superintendent John Huppenthal, paid for by state funds:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/58025928/TUSD-ethnic-studies-audit#source:facebook

3. Context of AZ HB 2281: Article with "Brief History":
http://www.workers.org/2011/us/arizona_0210/

4. Save Ethnic Studies Website: http://saveethnicstudies.org/

5. http://tucsoncitizen.com/three-sonorans/

6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers

7. Debbie Reese and American Indian Children's Literature site - Book ban,
literature, and implications for indigenous communities:
http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/

8. MAS, TUSD, and loss of 10% of AZ state funding:
http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/011012_tusd_ethnic_studies/tusd-axes-ethnic-studies/

9. YouTube.com clips: look for ThreeSonorans on Youtube.com for TONS of
video coverage, such as: Middle school students talking about
being suspended for walking out this week: http://youtu.be/iIBJhU3rjgE
Walkout clips from Monday, Jan. 23, 2012: http://youtu.be/Q6Dhz_Xu29s
DemocracyNow! Debate between Richard Martinez (SES Attorney) and
Huppenthal: http://youtu.be/gBi6NBmtxP0.

10. Students talking about book confiscation that occurred Friday, Jan. 13,
2012: http://youtu.be/mcEbZIW3IqQ

11. MAS Teachers on Book Ban: http://youtu.be/8zAo6UPGI_8

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