Friday, March 2, 2012

Tuscon School District - Banning Books and Cultural Studies

I do not think they should ban cultural studies in Arizona. I think you should be able to learn your own culture. In my fourth grade class, we learn social studies through a text book. That textbook is mostly story from a European-American perspective. It would be horrible to open up a text book and not hear your story. Ella Miller, 9 years old

Just barely out of her Early Childhood years, Ella wrote to protest the latest round of Arizona book banning and the banning of Ethnic Studies. Ella is a child immersed in a world where critical literacy matters, a world that is currently banned in the Tuscon Unified School District as school officials cite that the Ethnic Studies classes and books used in those are classes are “designed to promote ethnic chauvinism" (Horne, 2010).

Ella understands that most textbooks and school curricula are told from a European-American perspective and that it is unfair– unfair to her, to her friends of Color, to her White friends, to children everywhere. She understands that courses like Mexican American Studies and African American History are essential to all of us as we must come to see that this country was built by the contributions of far more than the European Americans highlighted in most textbooks and curricula. This is the beginning of a young citizen’s understanding that there are power issues at work as dominant cultural and linguistic groups work to maintain a status quo that reflects a narrow view of what matters. Ella feels strongly that this single story (Adichie, 2009) excludes many voices, and feeling the importance of her own sense of identity, she senses that these new regulations will adversely affect the identities of other children, those who are most often excluded from the dominant narrative – children of Color, children whose native language is not English, and children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. She also understands that her one voice, the voice of a child, matters and can make a difference.

The Affirmative Action Committee of Early Childhood Education Assembly writes in strong opposition to the recent round of book banning and the banning of the ethnic studies program in Tucson, Arizona. We believe, like Ella, that children who are given a steady diet of dominant perspectives through school curricula and textbooks are unfairly positioned in schools. We believe, like Ella, in the worth and value of multiple perspectives, including those most often marginalized by schools. We believe, like Ella, that we should not continue to marginalize, minoritize, devalue and demean students from already marginalized communities; that we should not keep them from passionate spaces for learning that are grounded in an affirmation of them and the people they represent; rather, we should teach young children the contributions from other cultures are a part of the rich mosaic that is this country. We also believe, like Ella, that children and adults can be peaceful change-agents in the world if they are taught to question the status quo and challenge the assumption that one narrative is fair or that one narrative is enough.

~ Erin Miller, ECEA Affirmative Action Committee

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