January 24, 2012...7:03 am

Resolution Opposing Restriction of Access to Materials and Open Inquiry in Ethnic and Cultural Studies Programs in Arizona

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During the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, TX, the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) believed it necessary that ALA respond with a unified voice to recent news reports highlighting the removal of educational materials in connection with the elimination of Mexican American Studies classes in the Tucson (AZ) Unified School District. REFORMA and other ethnic caucuses approached the IFC to draft a resolution addressing the threats to intellectual freedom that this restriction of access to educational materials represents. The IFC worked closely with the numerous ALA committees, divisions, and round tables to develop a resolution in response. This resolution affirms current ALA policy, which emphasizes the value of school libraries, and reiterates our professional commitment to intellectual freedom. We are pleased to announce that the resolution passed during ALA Council III on January 24, 2012.

This resolution received support from the ALA Committee on Diversity, ALA Committee on Legislation, American Association of School Librarians, American Indian Library Association, Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Chinese American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom Round Table, REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, Social Responsibilities Round Table, and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

RESOLUTION OPPOSING RESTRICTION OF ACCESS TO MATERIALS AND OPEN INQUIRY IN ETHNIC AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMS IN ARIZONA

WHEREAS, The policy of the American Library Association supports “equal access to information for all persons and recognizes the ongoing need to increase awareness of and responsiveness to the diversity of the communities we serve” (ALA Policy Manual, Section 60); and

WHEREAS, “The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries.” (Freedom to Read Statement, adopted June 25, 1953; last revised June 30, 2004); and

WHEREAS, “No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say” (Freedom to Read Statement, adopted June 25, 1953; last revised June 30, 2004); and

WHEREAS, The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), in compliance with The State of Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 15-111 and 15-112, had to eliminate its Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program, resulting in the subsequent removal of textbooks and books on the MAS Program Reading List; and

WHEREAS, Textbooks and reading list titles written by nationally and internationally renowned authors and scholars that reflect this country’s rich diverse heritage can no longer be taught or assigned by teachers in the suspended MAS Program; and

WHEREAS, Students in the TUSD MAS Program develop critical thinking skills through the study of literature written by ALA award winning authors; and students have demonstrated proven academic success, graduating from high school at the rate of 90% and entering college at a rate of 80%; and

WHEREAS, Educators rely on the collection development expertise of school librarians and access to a diverse collection to respond effectively to the individual learning needs of their students; and

WHEREAS, HB 2654 has been introduced in The State of Arizona House of Representatives, “An Act Repealing Sections 15-111 and 15-112, Arizona Revised Statutes; Relating to School Curriculum;”

now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the American Library Association:

1) Condemns the suppression of open inquiry and free expression caused by closure of ethnic and cultural studies programs on the basis of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
2) Condemns the restriction of access to educational materials associated with ethnic and cultural studies programs.
3) Urges the Arizona legislature to pass HB 2654, “An Act Repealing Sections 15-111 and 15-112, Arizona Revised Statutes; Relating to School Curriculum.”

This resolution should be sent to The Tucson Unified School District, The State of Arizona Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction, each member of The State of Arizona Legislature, the Governor of Arizona, United States Congressman Grijalva, and the United States Secretary of Education.

Much more information on this situation can be found at http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/.

10 Comments

  • Thank you OIF for a breath of sanity in an insane situation.

  • […] one of the harshest anti-immigrant laws on the books, Arizona has recently taken to targeting Latino schoolchildren and even the books their teachers use to inform them about their history and […]

  • Margaret Espinoza

    Please note that TUSD fought long and hard against this move, but finally had to conceded to removing the program as a result of fiscal blackmail (loss of State funding) by the Arizona Department of Education.

  • Stephanie Jackter

    Thank you for supporting Arizona’s children. I hope your action will be a potent one.

  • Please check out the page for OCCUPY BOOKS to learn about the event being planned in support of the students and teachers in Tucson Unified School District. Let us know if you can join us.

  • Ann Marie Maloney

    Thanks to OIF for excellent work. Well done.

  • McMasters, Char

    Thank you for the quick and decisive response to this surprising restriction.

  • Thank you so much for speaking out quickly and definitively against this action.

  • I am supporting a resolution to stop the removal of Mexican literature; because if we allow this or even give an ounce of support to removal, then we will change history forever. If one set of books (pretaining to any particular ethnic group) is being allowed to be removed from public libraries, then it will happen to another ethnic group, and so on. This type of extermination of literature, (and or history), can not be allowed. All individuals must have a voice and an opportunity to learn about other ethnicities in diversity.

  • […] through some extraordinary mental hoops in order to construe it as — you guessed it – censorship, despite the fact that the law neither targeted individual books nor banned any of them from Tucson […]


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