I happened to catch a bit of Jonathan Kozol on CSPAN this afternoon. He was talking about his new book Fire in the Ashes. I was somewhat surprised to learn this his book Savage Inequalities had been banned in Tucson, Arizona, along with lots of other subversive literary works like Walden and The Tempest. (Really, Shakespeare?) You can view a copy of the full list here.
The banned books were part of a larger ban on ethnic studies enacted by the Tucson School Board in January of this year. They did so under threat of losing 10% of their state funding for breaking a state law that forbids “any ethnic studies classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” While auditors did not find evidence of this sedition, but it seems that in the charged atmosphere of Arizona where immigration is a divisive issue, just having a group of hispanic students gather to talk about their history and their families is enough to scare some state legislators.
The Independent Lens video Precious Knowledge is worth a view. The students are experiencing higher achievement as they are drawn into courses where they can find themselves.
Meanwhile, I may make my next 30 day challenge to start working on the banned books list as I have not read much latino literature and it’s time to get back to Thoreau and Kozol and Shakespeare as well.