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Learning at its Best

The books aren’t banned, they’re just unavailable

...because some things just piss people off...

Tucson’s Unified School District, not wanting to lose state funding, removed certain writings from being readily available to students. Is it the money, or is it something else? Beneath the stated reason, is there a fear-driven motive? Is there a subconscious recognition that culture and “performance” are, in fact, linked, and that allowing “other” stories to be told and studied would enable “the others” to advance in society with a resultant disruption in the balance of power?

Here is a bit of “near-history” from when I was growing up in the sixties and early seventies. At that time, most of the Reds had either been killed off or were on reservations “out West”, the Yellows largely kept to themselves on the coasts and the Browns were working in the fields. In their colonies, those others might be seen; not heard. The few lost within zones of Whiteness were already converted, absorbed, or almost there.

Assimilation was the  process, and the American Melting Pot was its catchphrase. The writing on the wall suggested the sole remaining rift was in stark black & white, and  a great push was on. Full color blindness was sought — color, and all other differences (including sex/gender and associated, preconceived roles)  were to be erased.

My adoptive parents participated in the Fresh Air Program. For a week each summer, several underprivileged children from the inner workings of a nearby city, each of them “Black”, would stay in our rural household. Dad took a group of “also White” high school teachers, members of his congregation, to march with Martin Luther King in D.C.  Mom taught “commercial arts” (a code-name for secretarial skills) at a public high school so that young women would not be bound to the kitchen and/or bedroom. Added to this was their five years of missionary work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A picture of American charity and generosity. A glimpse of efforts to achieve equality. Good intentions required that they be saved by in an America that would assist their causes and allow them to visit a ‘real’ American home. Americans might even briefly live with them, over there, to provide real-life examples of stellar achievement because even they could become civilized, Americanized, saved from their sad ways…

This intentionally paved road to Neverland required (and continues to require) particular focus on saving the children. Get ’em young. Help them become all they can be by erasing their history. Their history is not only unimportant, it stands in the way of their development.

I think all stories are important. Whether hers, his, theirs, ours, yours or mine, each one intertwines over the longue durée. No single story is definitive because they are all told as an interpretation. No matter their popular appeal, some are entirely fictive. Others involve hard truths that, even told gently, give rise to the painful realization that their story may be more accurate than one’s own.

Truth, justice and the American Way is at risk of collapse — get out the erasers…

About Brent Snavely

A construct of upbringing and society, holder of a BS. JD and an MA, I have practiced law more than 25 years. "The Truth shall set you free", but only if it is a Personal Truth that is based upon facts. Parrhesia may be humankind's only hope (see,


One thought on “The books aren’t banned, they’re just unavailable

  1. State funding that goes right out the door to curriculum, intervention, and testing vendors in accordance with federal guidelines for what makes a state competitive to win federal funding – guidelines which have been written in accordance with the charter management lobby, its Yankee wonks, and Dixie sugar daddies: the natural extension of a US system of public education meant to assimilate workers and separate them from management since the system’s inception and enforcement?

    I don’t know exactly what to say or how, but the continued injustice and institutional prejudices of this system are a constant motivating discontent for me even as I quite routinely fail to get past them in my own classroom.

    The line between what’s right and wrong in schooling couldn’t be more clearly drawn. The ambiguity of what to do rests in us educators, which is a tremendous challenge and opportunity.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | February 22, 2012, 8:47 pm

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