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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

In the aftermath of the suspension of Tucson Unified School District ‘s Mexican American Studies department, TUSD has confiscated and continues to confiscate MAS teaching materials, which includes books, artwork and posters, etc.

This came in response to an unconstitutional measure, HB 2281, which was specifically created to dismantle the highly successful MAS-TUSD department.

Amid a massive backlash, TUSD officials have backpedaled, claiming that the confiscation of the books that took place after the Jan. 10 suspension, does not constitute a banned books list.

While TUSD claims that only 7 book titles were ordered boxed and carried off, the fact is that the confiscation, in some cases, in front of the students, involved more than the 7 titles.

The seven books that are "not banned" 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

But the removal has included not just books, but also, other teaching materials, including artwork and posters. In a further irony, some teachers are still being told to turn in the books that have not been banned.

The MAS-TUSD curriculum comprises some 50 books. All have been or are being removed or confiscated from every MAS classroom... which would strike the average person as odd. It’s as if the presence of these books inside classrooms constitute a distraction or bad influence. Apparently, students should not be able to even see those books in the classrooms.

Officially, the 50 books (listed at the end of the independent Cambium report ( which actually gave the MAS-TUSD program two thumbs up and recommended that it be expanded) are not banned. But their apparent status is now that of UNDOCUMENTED BOOKS.

As a result of the banning of the MAS program, there has been much unrest. One action involved a walkout and march from Cholla High School to the TUSD headquarters, a distance of five miles.

When the marchers reached TUSD headquarters, they were met by several bureaucrats, including anti-MAS administrator, Lupita Garcia, who oversees the districts Ethnic Studies programs. She unabashedly told the students that racism has nothing to do with color and that Mexico is where Mexican Studies is taught, not AMERICA!

The demeaning manner in which the students were addressed was also filled with inaccuracies. What was suspended was Mexican-American Studies, not Mexican Studies. When students asked why European Studies has not been banned, nor any other area studies discipline, the administrators had no response. And regarding the issue of this being AMERICA, apparently this administrator believes that Mexican Americans don't belong in America (she probably meant the United States).

In a development typical of Arizona, the students who walked out on Thursday, protesting the elimination of the district's Mexican American Studies program, without a hearing, have been directed to perform janitorial duties this Saturday. An amazing message, right out of Newt Gingrich’s playbook. He has been campaigning throughout the country, proposing the idea that students of color in poor communities should be hired as janitors to teach them a work ethic. Apparently, TUSD administrators are paying attention.

The further message of this punishment: The state and the district do not want students to study Mexican American Studies... but they do want them to clean toilets... Perhaps Gingrich should consider relocating to Arizona where his message is being fully embraced.

The suspension of MAS-TUSD has caused further unrest with more to come. Students at Tucson’s Wakefield middle school occupied the administration of their school this past week. Much more unrest can be expected.

While the issue of which books are banned or confiscated continues to be sorted out, the reaction worldwide has been swift to the point that TUSD officials are also claiming that they do not have a banned books list and that they haven’t eliminated MAS-TUSD; they are simply in the process of improving it.

* Here's a printable version of the books banned as a result of the banned curriculm, books that were not necessarily boxed, but books that can no longer be taught or that can no longer be in the former MAS classrooms

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona and a member of the MAS-TUSD Community Advisory Board has several books as part of the MAS curriculum. He can be reached at 520-626-0824 or

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