Tucson Unified School District has “banned” Mexican-American Studies books from classrooms – well, they may have, depending on your definition of ban.
School textbooks are being taken out of the MAS classrooms, and teachers are being told by administrators that they need to take precautions when teaching from other books, as well as what curriculum they use.
The school district says there are no books being banned; these books are still available in libraries. Still, teachers are being told to stay away from books and lessons that have to do with race, ethnicity and oppression. So why are they banning these books from the curriculum, but still making them available for students to read in the library? It’s like telling someone they can’t have ice cream, while putting a big bowl of it in front of them.
What I don’t get is how throughout our middle school and high school careers, every English teacher tells us that reading is important and it is something we should all do. We were given a certain amount of books throughout the school year to read, like Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So what has changed?
That list of banned books includes Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Rethinking Columbus, Critical Race Theory, The Tempest and Chicano!: the History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.
What baffles me the most about this ban is the fact that a school district is taking away an ethnic studies program and its books just because it focuses on Mexican-American life and culture. Haven’t we all been taught ever since we started school to accept people and not judge one another? So why is a school district banning books because this focuses on a certain culture and race?
Being a student myself who enjoys reading, and proudly admits that some of my favorite books are the ones I’ve read in my English classes during high school, I think it’s unfair for the students who attend Tucson Unified School District to be restricted in terms of what books they can and cannot read in class.
It makes me think, if they will ban books from teachers’ curriculum, what will they do next?