Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Sampling of Children's Books used in the Mexican American Studies Program

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]

The Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) was found in violation of a newly passed state law in Arizona. If TUSD did not shut down the program, John Huppenthal, the Arizona Superindent of Public Instruction, said he would withhold millions of dollars from TUSD. The law was one that prohibited instruction that "promoted resentment toward a class of people", and/or "promoted the overthrow of the United States government."

For decades, people who work in education and literature have asked publishers to publish books that reflect African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Latino/a American children, families and communities. We've seen some growth in those books, and a lot of those books were used in the MAS program that was declared in violation of that "promote resentment" law.

Research data shows that students in the program did better in school than students who were not in the program. Their attendance was better, their grades were better, and their graduation rates were better, too. Seems to me the program was doing wonderful things!

I wondered about the picture books and novels children who were in MAS courses have been reading since the program has been in TUSD, which is about ten years.  I've been looking over the list of books that the MAS program made available to students through the Learning Materials Center (LMC).

The books are housed in the Learning Materials Center, so I think they escaped being boxed up and taken away, but I wish for the well-being of students in TUSD who were in MAS courses, or who were receiving MAS instruction from MAS teachers (elementary students were served by MAS teachers who worked with classroom teachers who were infusing their lesson plans with Latino/a content), that the program had not been shut down. 

This is just a sampling of the books on the LMC list. There are over 400 books in this collection. As I studied it, I noticed the publication years are through the 1990s, but none in the 2000s, which leads me to think it is an incomplete list and that there are probably more than 400 at this point.

  • Ada, Alma Flor. The Christmas Tree/El Arbol de Navidad, Gathering the Sun
  • Anzaldua, Gloria. Friends from the Other Side/Amigos del Otro Lado
  • Cisneros, Sandra. Hair/Pelitos
  • Martinez, Victor. Parrot in the Oven
  • Mora, Pat. Confetti Poems for Children, The Desert is My Mother/El Desierto es Mi Madre, Tomas Y La Senora de la Biblioteca
  • Ortiz-Cofer, Judith. Una Isla Como Tu
  • Rohmer, Harriet. How We Came to the Fifth World/Como Vinimos Al Quinto Mundo, Just Like Me
  • Soto, Gary. Baseball in April and Other Stories, Chato's Kitchen, Snapshots from the Wedding, Too Many Tamales

AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books

1 comment:

Megan Bryant said...

I immediately think of Thomas Paine's work "Common Sense." I'm sure Britain would have loved to ban that book as it too created "resentment" against a people. But if a piece of literature raises awareness regarding the wrongs of one nation against another, is it not critical to read, analyze, and interpret that reading in hopes of creating a solution? Why ban texts that point out faults? Why not work to fix the faults?