Kids Right to Read Project Protests Tucson Book Censorship
of national organizations have condemned the banning of books used for
the Mexican-American Studies program in Tucson Unified School District
by joining a statement issued Monday by the Kids' Right to Read Project,
a joint initiative of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free
Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC).
School authorities have removed at least seven books that they consider
to be prejudiced against whites.
"This is censorship at its most brazen," said NCAC Executive
Director Joan Bertin. "Officials at the state and local level are
responsible for this unacceptable restriction on the educational
opportunities of students and their ability to have discussion in school
about historical and contemporary events touching on race and
ethnicity. We call on them to restore the books and topics for
discussion in the district's classrooms."
School officials acknowledge removing books including Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire, Message to Aztlan by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales, and Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years
by Bill Bigelow. The TUSD board ordered the books removed after State
Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal threatened to
withhold state funding pursuant to a recently-enacted Arizona law that
prohibits any class or program that promotes "resentment toward a race
or class of people." Huppenthal, who sponsored the law when he was a
state legislator, claims that the books used in the Mexican-American
Studies Program "repeatedly reference white people as being
'oppressors,'" and therefore violate the law. That law is being
challenged in court.
"We do not think the students of Tucson
should have to wait for a federal court order to get the education they
deserve," said ABFFE President Chris Finan. "Regardless of the outcome
of legal proceedings, this is harming students, whose education should
be the primary concern of elected officials. Instead, they are putting
politics and ideology ahead of the well-being of young people."
Arizona bookstores -- Antigone Books (Tucson), Changing Hands Bookstore
(Tempe), and Atalanta Music and Books (Bisbee) -- joined the Mountains
and Plains Booksellers Association in signing the statement. It may be