Arizona is once again getting national attention for its politics. Salon.com and the Wall Street Journal report that William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is among the books that are now barred from Arizona classrooms.
The new law banning ethnic studies has forced the Tucson Unified School District to terminate its 13 year old Mexican-American Studies program rather than lose millions of dollars in state funding. One of the program’s former teachers says she asked if she could start teaching “The Tempest.” She was told no, because of its themes of colonization, enslavement and racism.
Another book that has been removed is “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” which includes an essay by award-winning Tucson author Leslie Silko. The book’s editor Bill Bigelow says the only other time one of his books was banned was when the apartheid government in South Africa banned a book that included a speech by Nelson Mandela.
The Tucson Unified School District has responded by saying that the books that were removed from the classroom are still available in the District’s library system. The statement also says the books will be considered for possible use in the 2012-2013 school year.