Paulo Freire Is the Enemy of the People (Says Arizona)

Arizona’s persecution of its Spanish-speaking populations and everything that has to do with Hispanic Studies has progressed to the point where books are now banned in Tucson schools:

The list of removed books includes the 20-year-old textbook “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” which features an essay by Tucson author Leslie Silko. . . Other banned books include “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by famed Brazilian educator Paulo Freire and “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” by Rodolfo Acuña, two books often singled out by Arizona state superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal, who campaigned in 2010 on the promise to “stop la raza.” Huppenthal, who once lectured state educators that he based his own school principles for children on corporate management schemes of the Fortune 500, compared Mexican-American studies to Hitler Jugend indoctrination last fall.

When you get to the point where you ban Paulo Freire and Rethinking Columbus, there is no hope for you. I always thought that schools were places that promoted learning and reading, that they fostered the culture of appreciating the written word. And now books are banned? And such brilliant books, too?

I say, let’s not stop there. Let’s start burning books that offer the world-view that a Fortune 500-inspired bureaucrat finds incompatible with his limited vision of reality.

Jeez, people. This cannot be happening in a place that wants to call itself civilized.

My gratitude goes to reader PAF who sent in this information.

17 thoughts on “Paulo Freire Is the Enemy of the People (Says Arizona)”

  1. Apparently, “The Tempest” dealt too much with themes of oppression, the teaching of which is now illegal. It seems to me that when a government makes it illegal to even talk about oppression (even in an academic sense), that can only mean that a heaping helping of oppression is coming down the pipeline.


    1. EXACTLY!

      “The Tempest” is also a foundational text for Latin American thinkers who wrote about Latin American identity. So I guess the logic is that if this text inspired people to think about Latin America (centuries after it was written), it should be banned. Soon, we’ll ban the alphabet because people use it to write all kinds of subversive things.


  2. Fortunately many of these texts are up on the www.

    Today in my university library I noticed they’ve put up a sign warning people that while state law protects the privacy of library patrons it is superseded by the Patriot Act. Librarians will have to give your library records to law enforcement if asked and if asked, will not be allowed to tell you. I wondered if it were legally mandated they post this warning or whether they were doing it as a form of subtle protest. I guess I can find out.


    1. Exactly that, the notice re The Patriot Act superceding individual privacy so whatever I browsed could be reported to Homeland Security happened to me all throughout grad school. I am surprised that it is only happening now in Louisiana.


    2. Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday (January 18, 2012).

      In a 6-2 ruling, the court ruled that just because material enters the public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.” (from Wired magazine today)

      To see the actual text:

      Click to access golanscotusruling.pdf

      So much for Z`s statement that many of the banned books in Arizona may be obtainable on the Internet.


  3. From the Tuscon weekly:

    “From Acosta’s (a Mexican American studies teacher in Arizona) perspective the reach into the classroom goes beyond these specific books. He and other teachers were told they would have to change gears halfway through the year, so a Chicano-literature class becomes an English-literature class. That means the curriculum has to change, too, and, with it, so do books that may not be on this specific list—books like Luis Alberto Urrea’s novel Devil’s Highway, Rudolfo A. Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima and Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña.”


  4. Ok. It took a bit of work but I got the entire 50 book list of banned Tuscon Unified School Board books – pardon me – undocumented works as the Arizona school board refers to them which will be burned – I mean stored at an undisclosed location. Check pages 116 and 117 on the following pdf. file.

    The students which left school last week to protest the loss of the Mexican American Studies courses have been ordered to do janitorial work in the schools as compensation. Why should these Hispanics get educated when they can have practice in their future occupations cleaning toilets? Newt would be happy. Think I’m joking? Check this article.

    Now I understand why they banned “The Tempest” by Wm. Shakespeare – Prospero as European colonizers, Caliban as Latin America and Ariel as America.


    1. Oy, Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is banned?? Ignoramuses.

      One of the central works on Latin American identity is titled “Ariel.” It was published in 1900.


  5. Update: The Unified Tucson School district (TUSD) forced the Mexican American Studies (MAS) teachers to box up the banned books in front of the students in order to reinforce the message and is looking for more books than the current set to ban.

    “I suspect that TUSD is using many books which were never legally approved, in many different courses, and we have to track those books down and either remove them or go through proper curriculum approvals. Staff has already begun that search process.” – TUSD board president Mark Stegeman. (From the Tucson Citizen news, Jan. 19, 2012)

    And here’s a video about a discussion between a MAS teacher and a TUSD superintendent about teaching Shakespeare’s Tempest. This is a must see.


    1. I hope this is not a real audio recording. “Is it possible to teach it without any references to race”? “Gender and feminism are somehow safer”?

      I’m glad that I still can teach my courses without having to explain to anybody how and why I teach them this way. This whole dialogue sounds like it has been taped in the Soviet Union and translated into English.


  6. If you want to make a difference or stand up and be counted, why don’t you join the librotraficante which is organizing a group of Latino writers to smuggle TUSD banned books into Arizona with a final destination of Tucson during the coming spring break? You can join the caravan or just sign up Edwardsville as a partner town. I bet that the experience would be the basis of a great “on the road” book. An updated version of Jack Kerouac with a Latino flavour.


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