Books Are Stored While Tucson's Mexican-American Studies Suspended
February 29, 2012

PHOENIX -- Supporters of Tucson's Mexican-American Studies program met outside the state capitol Wednesday to read from books they say have been banned. School district officials say the books have not been banned – just moved to storage facilities.

The state threatened to withhold millions in funding if Tucson’s school district didn’t dismantle or bring its Mexican-American Studies program into compliance. So in January the district boxed up the books the state said had been illegally used to teach students only one ethnic perspective.

Other books from the program just won’t be taught while the classes are suspended. One of these books is Let Their Spirits Dance by Stella Pope Duarte, who says she had been a literary guest in Tucson schools for years.

"Then all of a sudden, this year was the last year that I was told I probably would be able to discuss my novel," Duarte said. "So as I looked at the kids, I’m telling you that this year, I just broke into tears. I broke into tears because I understood what was going to happen."

Photo by Devin Browne
Kathy Nakagawa (left) and Karen Leong, both professors at Arizona State University, participate in a read-in in front of the Arizona state capitol Wednesday.

The seven titles district officials collected from classrooms are:

Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado;

500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez;

Message to AZTLAN by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales;

Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales;

Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuna;

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire;

Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow.

The district says these books are still available in several school libraries, for students to check out.