No Mexican American Studies Books For Tucson's 'Culturally Relevant' Courses

An Arizona city that drew national headlines when it banned a controversial Mexican American Studies curriculum and pulled seven of its books from classrooms voted Tuesday to approve a replacement curriculum that includes no Hispanic-authored books.

Tucson Unified School District’s board voted 3 to 2 to approve the books for “culturally relevant” courses mandated by a federal judge in an ongoing desegregation case. But the section labeled “U.S. History -- Mexican American Culturally Relevant Viewpoint” contains only works authored by non-Mexican Americans.

“There's not one Chicano author on the list that you're going to approve tonight,” Mexican American Studies supporter and author of the blog Three Sonorans, David Morales, told Tucson News Now. “How are you going to have Chicano perspectives with no Chicano authors?"

TUSD spokeswoman Cara Rene told HuffPost in an email that the school board would consider including more books in the curriculum for the culturally relevant courses in the future.

"All books recommended by the curriculum department may be considered by the governing board," Rene wrote. "This is an ongoing process and other books, as appropriate, will be considered for the course curriculum."

The list of texts, which appears on TUSD’s website, includes works by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, U.S. historian Howard Zinn, and Asian-American historian Ronald Takaki, among others. Three works by conservative historian Larry Schweikart, a frequent guest on the rightwing morning talk show “Fox and Friends,” appears on the list for use as “counter-texts.”

The Arizona legislature voted in 2010 to ban courses that promote ethnic solidarity, foster racial resentment, or encourage the overthrow of the United States. The law aimed to crack down on an experimental Mexican American Studies curriculum in Tucson public schools that conservatives accused of politicizing the students.

Facing the loss of 10 percent of the district’s funding -- about $14 million over the fiscal year -- for failure to comply, Tucson’s school board voted to suspend the classes in December of 2011. Tucson administrators removed seven books, almost all of them by Latino authors, from the city’s classroom and prohibited them from instruction, citing concerns over litigation.

Those books were not included in the culturally relevant courses and remain forbidden from instruction.

Latino intellectuals across the country have denounced Arizona for the banning of the experimental curriculum, which was praised by independent research and a state-commissioned audit.

“I think it’s even more tragic than SB 1070,” Longoria said, referring to Arizona’s controversial state legislation cracking down on illegal immigration. “This is where our communities can learn about our history and to prevent anyone from doing that is criminal.”



Latino Books Once Banned In Arizona