by David Safier
The Star has a story today, broken earlier by Luke Knipe on Poco Bravo (Welcome back, Luke!), that TUSD Board member Mark Stegeman has proposed the books previously used by MAS teachers which were removed from classrooms "shall henceforth be subject to the same rules for classroom use as are all other books." It makes sense, but it's pretty weak tea. Stegeman still dislikes the MAS classes and their curriculum, but he's OK about letting the books be used by all TUSD teachers. I'm not impressed.
Notice I didn't use the word "banned" in the paragraph above, even though that's the proper term for the book removal. That's because I want to give the honors to Stegeman himself who appears to admit in the article that the books were banned. In the past, he's maintained the books were not banned. But read this quote in the Star article:
"The law isn't about books," [Stegeman] said. If the Education Department "came back and said 'we think those books have to be banned forever,' I don't think that's the intent of the statute and I'd have to debate that."
If Stegeman wanted to be consistent, he would have used the term "removed from use in certain classrooms" rather than "banned." Call it an admission, call it a Freudian slip, but Stegeman's words affirm TUSD put a selective ban on books used by MAS teachers.
Another revelation in the article, for me at least, is that the state Dept of Ed was involved in the book banning. I had always thought TUSD maintained it made the decision on its own. However . . .
The decision to remove the books was made by TUSD in consultation with the Arizona Department of Education, primarily because even though the courses were no longer going to be offered, the students enrolled in them would remain in the same classrooms with the same teachers. [boldface added]
On another note, Freedom Summer is continuing through the summer (Calendar of events here). The next event is An Evening in Celebration of Mario Suarez: Tucson's Original Chicano Author Saturday, 7:30pm, at 314 S. Convent.
NOTE ABOUT PICKETING PEOPLE'S HOUSES: A group of people picketed Mark Stegeman's house. I strongly disagree with that tactic. Picketing his UA office makes sense. Certainly picket Board meetings. But picketing someone's house feels like intimidation to me. It borders on a "We know where you live" threat. I don't want my house picketed for things I write on BfA. I don't want the houses of doctors who perform abortions picketed. And I don't think Stegeman's house should be picketed either.