TUSD rejects reports of book ban

Says ethnic-studies texts are no longer in classes, but available
2012-01-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T08:40:33Z TUSD rejects reports of book banAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

TUSD is denying reports that it has banned books associated with Mexican American Studies classes.

The classes were eliminated earlier this month in an effort by the district to avoid losing millions in state funding after the courses were found to be in violation of state law.

After the Governing Board decision, teachers were told to box up seven books that were used as supporting materials for the suspended curriculum.

The materials were removed from the classrooms and placed in a district storage facility. The books remain available to students at several school libraries where the courses were taught, according to TUSD spokeswoman Cara Rene.

Rene wasn't sure if other Tucson Unified School District teachers are using the books as part of their curricula.

Huffington Post blogger Jeff Biggers was one of the first to raise the issue of books being banned in TUSD. Other blogs on websites, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News and Salon.com, have followed suit.

The books in question 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 American Civil Rights Movement" by Arturo Rosales

• "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos" by Rodolfo Acuña.

• "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire.

• "Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years" by Bill Bigelow.

Other reports have stated that William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" was also banned by TUSD and no longer allowed for instruction, a claim that was supported by Curtis Acosta, who taught Latino literature but has since been assigned to teach a traditional course.

After the decision to suspend the courses was made, Tucson High Magnet School administrators told Acosta to "steer clear" of "The Tempest" because it has race and oppression as its central focus, according to Acosta's attorney, Richard Martinez.

Acosta was not available for comment Tuesday.

TUSD, however, has said that "The Tempest" is still available for teachers to use in their classrooms as appropriate for course curriculum.

Tucson High Principal Abel Morado said on Tuesday that Acosta was never told that he could not teach "The Tempest" at all. Rather, Acosta was told to avoid teaching it from a Mexican-American Studies perspective as he would have in the past.

The district has said it is working to minimize any disruptions to learning as students transition from Mexican American Studies courses into traditional courses with a more general curriculum.

However, Martinez - who represents Acosta and 10 others from the Mexican American Studies department - said teachers have not been given any substitute curriculum or an approved list of materials.

There was also one instance at Tucson High where Mexican American Studies materials were collected while students were present.

"We had a directive to be in compliance with the law and acted quickly to meet that need," Morado said. "Part of that directive is communicating with teachers, students and parents, and collecting materials. We regret that in one instance materials were collected during class time."

On StarNet: Read more on the controversy surrounding ethnic studies and find other education-related resources at azstarnet.com/education

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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