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Working Paper

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SSRN Discipline

Legal Scholarship Network; Rhetoric & Communication Research Network; English & American Literature Research Network; *Humanities - Forthcoming Areas; Law School Research Papers - Legal Studies; Mexican-American Studies; LSN Subject Matter eJournals; Cognitive Science Network; LIT Subject Matter eJournals; Humanities Network


The rapid growth of populations of color particularly relatively young groups like Latinos has generated an increasing number of conflicts over schools and schooling One such controversy erupted in Tucson Arizona over a successful Mexican American Studies program in the public schools The controversy featured accusations that the program was unAmerican and biased while defenders countered that it greatly boosted attendance graduation rates and aspiration level for hundreds of Latino schoolchildren many from poor immigrant families Prior to the program's inception dropout rates for this group were nearly fifty percent the program elevated the graduation rate to nearly ninety Taught by energetic young teachers many of them graduates of universitylevel ethnic studies programs the course of instruction emphasized Latino history and culture including works by wellknown authors When the Arizona authorities banned the program under a new law prohibiting the teaching of ethnically divisive material and removed the offending textbooks to an offsite book depository in front of shocked schoolchildren the local Latino community exploded in indignation A Texas communitycollege professor organized a caravan of librotraficantes book traffickers that carried trunkfuls of "wet books" all the way from Houston to Tucson where the drivers gave them away to schoolchildren and interested bystandersTeachers who were fired or transferred brought a number of actions challenging the legislation and book ban Taking as its title an awardwinning documentary film this Article analyzes a number of issues likely to come to the fore in the years ahead including the right of minority groups to study material essential to understanding their own background history and identity "” in short a new type of race trial