stephanie jones

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Shocking Censorship, Banning, and Silencing in Arizona!

In anti-bias teaching, communities, democracy, Education Policy on January 20, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Many of you already know about the shocking decision to suspend the Mexican-American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, well now books connected to those programs are being banned in schools.

Check this out for a list of BANNED books – some of which have been confiscated by school officials during class while students and teachers are present.

And, if we want to take on a more “come on, this ain’t about politics, or race, or power, or fear, or the teaching of one particular history and the exclusion of exploitation and colonization – this is just about closing down the courses and therefore moving all the books used in those courses to central office storage where they will be tightly sealed in boxes and never to be used by youth or teachers again unless they go out of their way and locate one of the few copies we might have available in some of our libraries” stance – here’s the “official” story of book banning reposted from Empty Wheel.

Here’s a message from Rethinking Schools – if you’re on Facebook (which I’m not) you might want to post ideas and messages of support:

Dear Rethinking Schools friends,
Did you see the news last week? On Friday, we learned that our book Rethinking Columbus was banned — along with other books used in Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program, including Paulo Freire’s A Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Rodolfo Acuña’s Occupied America, and Elizabeth Martinez’s 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures. So we’re in good company.
School authorities confiscated the books during class—boxed them up and hauled them off. As one student said, “We were in shock … It was very heartbreaking to see that happening in the middle of class.”
This is the latest chapter in the rightwing attempt to ban ethnic studies in Arizona. Last week, facing the loss of $15 million in state support, the governing board of Tucson’s schools voted 4-1 to terminate the popular and successful Mexican American Studies program.
On Friday, I spoke to the Tucson school district’s director of communications, who told me that the books had to be seized and carted away, because they were “evidence”—as if the teaching going on there were a crime scene. On Tuesday, the district protested that no books had been “banned”—although district officials admitted that they had been “boxed and stored” and could not be used in class. Sounds like “banning” to me.
Rethinking Schools is talking with teachers, students, and activists in Tucson about how we can help their struggle there. We will let you know as we gather ideas.
Do you have ideas to express support for Tucson teachers and students, and to organize opposition to Arizona’s banning of Mexican American Studies and Tucson’s confiscation of books in their curriculum? Please post ideas to the Rethinking Schools facebook page, or if you’re not on facebook, e-mail me.
We’ll follow up soon.
For more information, check out Jeff Biggers’ article, “Who’s Afraid of ‘The Tempest’?” Debbie Reese’s, “Teaching Critical Thinking in Arizona: NOT ALLOWED,” Biggers’ Huffington Post interview with Tucson teacher Curtis Acosta, and my Rethinking Schools blog post.
Thanks for your important work.


White Trash

In anti-bias teaching, class-sensitive teaching, classism, discourse, identity, language, poverty, social class, Standing up for Kids on January 19, 2012 at 3:39 am

I love this post and wanted it on my blog! Using the term white trash is as racist and classist as you can get. When I hear people use the term…and I regularly do…I ask, “what do you mean?” and when the response is, “oh, you know…” I push them: “No, I don’t know what that means. Tell me what it means…”

When we force people to be explicit about the code words and phrases they use to position themselves as better than others – to create hierarchies of value and worth – we force them to face the racist and classist inside them. And when we ask simple questions that get at the meanings of those code words and phrases, we mark ourselves as people who disagree with their view…and that is important work since they wouldn’t have said it in front of us if they didn’t think we had the same perspective as them to begin with.

Out with classism and the systemic dehumanizing of people with language! A person cannot be trash…what could be more harmful than calling someone this?


Cooperative Catalyst

A boy from New Orleans shows up a week and a half after Hurricane Katrina. Being one of only a handful of white kids at our school, he is a little edgy and approaches another white student cautiously.

“I’ve never been at a school with so many Hispanics,” he whispers.

“It’s Latino. Only the government uses Hispanic.”


“Yeah, and if I were you, I would tell everyone that you’re half-Mexican. It’s what I did. There’s a lot of really light Latinos out there, so people will believe you.”

“But I’m not.”

“Nobody knows that. Do you live with just your mom?”

He shakes his head affirmatively.

“Then say that your dad is Mexican. They’ll just thing that your a guero instead of a gringo. You don’t want people to think you’re white trash.”

“They use that term out here, too?” he asks with a look of shock.

His new…

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