Arizona's Far-Reaching Ethnic Studies Ban

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flags of Arizona and the U.S. (flickr user Surat Lozowick (cc:by-nc-sa))

Last Tuesday Tucson Unified School District voted to end its Mexican-American Studies program to comply with an Arizona State Law banning ethnic studies.  The administration released a list of seven books teachers would have to remove from their curriculum including titles like "Critical Race Theory" and "Rethinking Columbus: The next 500 Years." Teachers are also being advised to avoid books that address themes of race, ethnicity, and oppression. One such targeted text is Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Lorenzo Lopez teaches history and civics to 11th and 12th graders at Cholla High School in Tucson. Buzz Conover is a senior political reporter at Arizona Public Media.


Christopher "Buzz" Conover and Lorenzo Lopez

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [4]

brian from Massachusetts

Oh the Humanity !!!!

Banning books of any kind or type, just insane. What are we teaching today, where is the lesson? How are students to learn
what is right or wrong if they read or are instructed only one "ism" in public schools. Is that not the theology of private schools?

Let them read ( Slaughter House Five, Darkness at Noon, the Enormous Room, the Master and the Margarita, 1984, Albion Moonlight ) so that perhaps the next generation can move on to a more peaceful and sane world with a better understanding
of morals , ethics and humanity.

Jan. 17 2012 11:34 AM

Isn't Critical Theory a term coined by the Marxist Frankfurt School in Germany in the 1930's and doesn't a title like "Critical Race Theory" sounds like a throw back to that disturbing time and place?
Of all the books available, why is that one the best for students of that age?
Much is made of "The Tempest" but perhaps "The Merchant of Venice" would also be avoided considering it has been used throughout the centuries to promote anti-semitism depending on the instructors. How would progressives educators in terms of the Occupy movement use that play to explain modern "money lenders" and bankers?
In the past what books has the school district routinely avoided and removed and does that make those books "banned"?

Jan. 17 2012 10:12 AM
Chuck Nefzger

My daughter attended a magnet type public school in Denver. Her school's library collected all books being banned in other schools and made them readily available in a special collection in the school library.

I believe that all censorship is dangerous to our democracy. I believe that we will retain our democracy only as long as we have the right to the free exchange of ideas.

If parents are worried about the ideas in a specific book, read it and discuss it with your child. Hiding it will just make it more potentially attractive to the average teen.

Jan. 17 2012 09:34 AM
Copernican from New York, New York

I taught middle school social studies for 16 yrs. at a north shore ("Gold Coast") Long Island, NY school district with a majority Jewish-American population.

When as part of my 27 yr. teaching career's objective of provoking thought and research (a la "The unexamined life is not worth living.")I reviewed the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1917 in the context of exploring contemporary US foreign policy in the middle east, and in doing so encouraged my students to present both Israeli and Palestinian sides' viewpoints. The mere questioning of the community's reflexive, uncritical, orthodox pro-Israel view resulted in my being called into the principal's office and pointedly reminded of the "sensitivities" of the community; the subtext: "Don't raise doubt about prevailing views." I.e., don't make waves. Thereafter, though I had tenure and a quarter century's teaching experience with an impeccable professional record, the administration began to monitor my classes with unscheduled visits. Though this treatment had a chilling effect,I resisted and tried to continue to encourage my students to question prevailing views and claims, of all sides.

Thus, Arizona's policy doesn't surprise me in the least! As we see when Ron Paul - in the context of our nation's quantifiable unsustainable projection of its hard power worldwide - proposes a radical rethinking of the application of our military expenditures, he's discounted as a "crank" (Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have been so characterized for the same reason.)

We must fight our fellow citizens' myopic views and shocking ignorance of History, and this necessity only reinforces the point that uncensored curricula and the quality and character of Education decision makers - especially at the impressionable elementary and secondary levels - must be closely supervised by the general population if we want to preserve one of the world's few tolerant, open, and progressive nations.

Jan. 17 2012 08:54 AM

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