In January 2012, the Tuscon Unified School District (TUSD) voted to shut down the very successful and well-known Raza Studies Program (aka Mexican American Studies). During class and while the students were in the room, administrators in one school removed books and classroom materials that had anything to do with Mexican American Studies. In voting down the Raza Studies Program, the school district also banned many of the books used. These are award-winning and well-respected books like Women Hollering Creek and House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; Zorro by Isabel Allende, The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire. They even banned Shakespeare’s The Tempest! Wow. Sounds like educational fascism, doesn’t it? The complete list of banned books can be found on La Política.
How are they able to do this, you might ask?
Back in 2010, State Attorney Tom Horn spearheaded HB2281, which lawmakers passed. This law prohibits school districts from offering classes that 1) promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, 2) promote resentment toward any race or class, 3) advocate ethnic solidarity instead of being individuals, or 4) are designed for a certain ethnicity. Unbelievable that teaching about ethnic solidarity is a crime in Arizona, isn’t it?
So, in 2011, TUSD was informed that they were in violation of HB2281. Rather than fight for the program, the district chose to shut it down. To hear a fuller version of this story, check out the recently posted story “Arizona Goddam! The Fight For Raza Studies inTucson” on Education Radio. One of the most memorable quotes from the show was “Arizona is the Mississippi and the Alabama of the Jim Crow era.”