Tagged with " intellectual freedom"
SOIS PhD student Adriana McCleer recently won “best poster” at Student Research Day for her preliminary analysis of the following case study:
The Dismantling of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program: A Case Study and Critical Analysis
The Mexican American Studies (MAS) program began as a 1998 grassroots community effort to address the Latino academic achievement gap in Tucson. It flourished into a Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) curriculum rooted in cultural relevance, critical thought, social justice, and academic rigor. The Mexican American perspective was centered in the classroom through history, literature, and art. This program has received national recognition in the field of education and has documented notable success in student achievement.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 15-111 “Declaration of policy” and § 15-112 “Prohibited courses and classes; enforcement” laws were enacted with the intention to dismantle the TUSD MAS program. The program was ruled in violation of the law and in January 2012, the governing board of TUSD suspended all MAS courses and subsequently removed textbooks and course materials from classrooms.
This exploratory case study uses Critical Race Theory as a framework to investigate the dismantling of the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program in Arizona. The study investigates the suspension of courses and organized removal of educational materials as a restriction of intellectual freedom and act of censorship to formulate research questions for additional studies.
A literature review examines works on the topics of Critical Race Theory, the TUSD MAS curriculum and pedagogy, ethnic studies, and intellectual freedom and censorship in schools. Data collection includes document analysis of news articles, legal documents, government and community websites, press releases, and official statements from Arizona Department of Education, State Superintendents of Public Instruction, and TUSD.
In Critical Race Theory, Delgado & Stefancic (2012) outline the nationalistic viewpoint that supports ethnic studies and questions “the majoritarian assumption that northern European culture is superior” (p. 67). The text also illuminates the power of counterstorytelling, or “writing that aims to cast doubt on the validity of accepted premises or myths, especially ones held by the majority” (p. 159). Challenges to the nationalistic viewpoint and the power of counterstorytelling are “Color-blind, or ‘formal’ conceptions of equality, expressed in rules that insist only on treatment that is the same across the board” (p. 8). This approach is focused on addressing only the most obvious and visible forms of discrimination, but does not address institutional or systemic injustices, particularly in the form of policy.
Arizona Revised Statute § 15-112(A)(4) does not allow classes to “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” This notion is rooted in the beliefs of Arizona Attorney General, Tom Horne, that “People are individuals, not exemplars of racial groups” (2010). He is consistent in his claims that ethnic studies is fundamentally wrong in that it segregates students and does not treat them as individuals. However, the provision of ethnic studies and the treatment of students as individuals are not mutually exclusive. The validation of counterstories celebrates the unique qualities and experiences of individuals. In contrast, the elimination of ethnic studies and promotion of color-blindness discounts and discredits the unique experiences people have had as individuals. By adopting a colorblind position, there is a strategic veiling of discrimination. In a 2009 critical discourse study of Tom Horne’s attack on MAS, Michael W. Simpson stated, “By asserting ‘We are not racists’ and ‘We are not a racist society’, the dominant group has exercised a strategy of defense against charges of racism and constructed and maintained the dominant white consensus” (2009, p. 24).
This study continues the exploration and analysis of the censorship of counterstories veiled by the promotion of color-blindness.
Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (2nd ed.). New York: NYU Press.
Horne, T. (2010). Finding by the state superintendent of public instruction of violation by Tucson Unified School District pursuant to A.R.S. 15-112(B). Retrieved fromhttp://www.azag.gov/issues/TUSD%20%20Ethnic%20Studies%20Findings.pdf
Simpson, M. (2009). Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction verse Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies: A critical discourse study, 1-29. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1372387
[This opinion piece is presented by SOIS PhD student, Jeremy Mauger]
On April 10th, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington upheld a ruling that allows filtering software to deny adults the ability to access constitutionally protected speech in public libraries. TheCourt’s opinion suggests that the libraries in question are serving a “legitimate government interest” (1 at p. 6) by blocking adult access to protected speech, and are justified in doing so in order to comply with the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
Passed in 2000, CIPA requires that public libraries install filtering software in order to protect minors from harmful content while accessing the Internet. Specifically, CIPA mandates that any public library which receives federal funding for computers and Internet service must implement “…a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against…visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors” (2 at pp. 6-7). Fearing that this requirement would hinder the right of adult patrons to access constitutionally protected speech, the American Library Association filed a challenge to this law – a challenge that eventually came before the Supreme Court in 2003.
Although the Supreme Court did not find CIPA to be unconstitutional, it did acknowledge that such filtering may harm the right of adults to access protected speech if implemented incorrectly. Justice Kennedy “…concluded that if…a librarian will unblock filtered material or disable the Internet software filter without significant delay on an adult user’s request, there is little to this case…If some libraries do not have the capacity to un-block specific Web sites or to disable the filter or if it shown that an adult user’s election to view constitutionally protected Internet material is burdened in some other substantial way, that would be the subject for an as-applied challenge” (3 at pp. 3-4).
[Ed – changes have been made to this paragraph for clarification; see comments below] The opportunity for such a challenge arose in 2006 when
Sarah Bradburn, an adult patron adult patrons of the North Central Regional Library District (NCRL) was were denied access to a websites containing constitutionally protected material. The NCRL, an association of 28 participating libraries, currently employs FortiGuard filtering software in order to comply with the requirements of CIPA and has previously used SmartFilter (Bess edition). In this instance, FortiGuard blocked Ms. Bradburn from viewing the website of the Among others, the filter blocked plaintiff Charles Heinlen’s access to “womenandguns.com”. This website is published by the Second Amendment Foundation, a “Washington nonprofit corporation dedicated to issues associated with the constitutional right to keep and bear arms” (4 at p. 7). The content of this site is undoubtedly protected by the constitution but does not fall within the NCRL’s definition of material that is suitable for minor patrons in the context of CIPA and was blocked accordingly.
Ms. Bradburn and three other plaintiffs (including the Second Amendment Foundation) sued the library system, alleging that the NCRL’s filtering policy violated the First Amendment rights of its adult patrons. However, despite the Supreme Court’s explicit suggestions to the contrary, on May 6, 2010 the Supreme Court for the State of Washington ruled that the NCRL had no obligation to disable Internet filters and allow access to constitutionally protected material. Specifically, the Washington Court ruled that “
…a public library may… filter Internet access for all patrons without disabling the filter to allow access to web sites containing constitutionally protected speech upon the request of an adult patron” (4 at pp. 29-30, Emphasis Added).
This decision, as noted above, was recently upheld by the Federal Court. The Circuit Court concluded that “Blocking Internet sites and pages that contain constitutionally-protected material deemed suitable only for adults helps ensure that the environment at NCRL libraries is consistent with its mission of providing learning and research opportunities for individuals of all ages. This is a legitimate government interest…The Court acknowledges that this process may frustrate some adult patrons…[However,] because NCRL’s Policy, including not disabling the Internet filter at the request of an adult patron, is reasonable, there is no overbreadth or impermissible content-based First Amendment violation” (1 at pp. 5-6).
This is an extraordinary extension of the Supreme Court’s ruling. It bears repeating that the Supreme Court’s decision requires that the constitutional application of CIPA must include the immediate unblocking of Internet filters at the request of an adult patron. As Justice Kennedy noted, the law ceases to be constitutional “…if it is shown that an adult user’s election to view constitutionally protected material is burdened in some…substantial way” (3 at p. 4).
It seems clear in this instance that adult access to protected speech has been substantially burdened. The NCRL has misinterpreted the requirements of CIPA while the courts have extended and misapplied the law. The NCRL’s filtering policy and subsequent rulings in the Bradburn case have limited the ability of adult patrons to access constitutionally protected material on public library computers. It has also confined adult access to only those materials deemed to be suitable for children within the constraints of CIPA. Internet filtering through CIPA was never intended to constrict adult access in this manner. It was solely meant to shield minors from harmful content, not to create a burden on the right of adults to freely receive constitutionally protected speech.
- Bradburn et al v. North Central Regional Library District, 2:06-cv-00327-EFS (2006). United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington; April 10, 2012.
- Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Title XVII, Pub. L. No. 106-554 (2000).
- United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003).
- Bradburn et al v. North Central Regional Library District, 2:06-cv-00327-EFS (2006). Washington State Supreme Court, No. 82200-0; May 6, 2010.
The UW-Milwaukee Center for Information Policy Research, UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies and the WLA Intellectual Freedom Round Table invite you to attend the 2011 Wisconsin Library Association Pre-Conference, Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like!
When a library confronts an intellectual freedom challenge, who are the players involved, what are their interests and where do we stand? This pre-conference will explore the motivations of such groups as Family Friendly Librarians, local politicians and the American Library Association.
Perspectives on intellectual freedom issues will be offered by:
- Barb Deter, Past president, Board of Directors, West Bend Community Memorial Library
- Barbara Jones, Director, Office of Intellectual Freedom, ALA, Chicago
- Sandra Braman, Professor, Department of Communications, UW-Milwaukee
- Loretta Gaffney, PhD candidate in Library & Information Science, Univ. of Illinois
- Joyce M. Latham, Assistant Professor, UW-Milwaukee
November 1, 2011 | 9:30 – 3:30 PM
Hilton Milwaukee City Center
509 W. Wisconsin Ave
Amidst the political controversy surrounding Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, there have have been allegations of possible Internet filtering at the Wisconsin Capitol where an opposition website was apparently blocked on the Capitol wifi network. This obviously has implications both in terms of the current dispute, as well as information policy more broadly.
CIPR would like to highlight PhD student (and CIPR Research Assistant) Anthony Hoffmann’s excellent analysis of what really (seems) to be happening – “Access and Protests: Internet Censorship and the Wisconsin Capitol.”
Please join CIPR co-directors Dr. Joyce Latham and Dr. Michael Zimmer for a discussion of the intersections of intellectual freedom and WikiLeaks at the Brookfield Public Library on Thursday, February 24th from 7 to 8 PM.
Registration for this event is requested, but not required. To register or to request further information, please call 262-782-4140.