Thursday, July 13, 2006

Another Book on Cuba Faces Challenge

The politics involved in banning books on Cuba in Florida are muddying the waters. Why are these books being challenged. Is is because the books truly are misleading or is it because someone wants to be elected to the school board and they are creating their platform by challenging books on Cuba?

Read Matthew I. Pinzur's take on the whole affair. He has been the Miami Herald's lead education writer since 2002, covering Miami-Dade schools as well as state and national education policy. He follows the school system's complex politics as well as education in the classroom.

"I'm thinking of going to law school for the sole reason that the market for suing the Miami-Dade School Board over book-banning issues appears to be a growth industry."

"...we can delve into the some of the more arcane political background."

In a 32-page children's non-fiction book on the US, would we expect a full exploration of poverty in the US, of strained race relations, of drive-by shootings, of health care problems, of the trampling of civil rights by the Patriot Act, etc? Every country has its problems no matter what system it follows. The US and Canada are no different from Cuba in that respect and it is ridiculous to expect a children's book to explore these issues.

Some of the complaints about "Vamos a Cuba" revolve around the photo of children smiling on the cover. Despite living conditions, people all over the world smile -- even those people living under repressive regimes or in dire poverty.

The ACLU released this statement:

“This is a prime example of the slippery slope and open season on libraries and authors that will be inevitable if censorship of books in our public school library system is institutionalized. Two months ago it was Vamos a Cuba, now it’s Cuban Kids – next week could be any and every other book on the library shelves which would leave the children of Miami with empty libraries.
We are already involved in litigation over the removal of Vamos a Cuba in Miami-Dade Public Schools. If the judge rules in this case, as was already decided in Board of Education v. Pico in 1982, that removal of a book from a school library based on its content is unconstitutional – the nature of this recent complaint will be a moot point since it is also covered under the same criteria.”

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