Monday, January 30, 2012

Arizona School Censorship Hit with Protest from Organizations, Educators

Joan BertinExecutive Director
National Coalition Against Censorship
bertin@ncac.org
212-807-6222 x 101
 Michael O’Neil
Communications Coordinator
National Coalition Against Censorship
michael@ncac.org
212-807-6222 x 107
Chris Finan
President
American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression
Chris@abffe.org
212-587-4025 x 301
 Amy Long
Communications Coordinator
American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression
amyl@abffe.org
212-587-4025 x 302

Arizona School Censorship Hit By Salvo of Protest
From Free Speech Orgs and Educators

Censored News

TUCSON, AZ­—Dozens of national organizations have joined together to protest the banning of books used for the Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).“This is censorship at its most brazen,” said Joan Bertin, Executive Director at the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). “Officials at the state and local level are responsible for this unacceptable restriction on the educational opportunities of students and their ability to have discussion in school about historical and contemporary events touching on race and ethnicity.

“We call on them to restore the books and the topics for discussion in the district’s classrooms.”

The TUSD board ordered the books removed after State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal threatened to withhold state funding pursuant to a recently-enacted Arizona law. That law is being challenged in court.

“We do not think the students of Tucson should have to wait for a federal court order to get the education they deserve,” said Chris Finan, President of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). “Regardless of the outcome of legal proceedings, this is harming students, whose education should be the primary concern of elected officials.  Instead they are putting politics and ideology ahead of the well-being of young people.”

NCAC and ABFFE have jointly created the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP), which offers support,education, and advocacy to promote the right of young people to read widely and to receive a high quality education that is challenging and relevant.  KRRP provides direct assistance to students, teachers, librarians and others opposing book-banning in schools and communities nationwide, while engaging local activists to promote the freedom to read.

In the shocking case of Tucson, many national organizations dedicated to education and constitutional right shave organized to speak in one voice, calling on the appropriate authorities to correct what they see as an egregious abuse of power.

The joint statement to Arizona officials, with signatories including representatives from publishers, teachers, civil libertarians, and booksellers from the region, may be viewed at http://www.ncac.org and http://abffe.org.

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