5 to 7-Year-Olds Need All the Facts on Cuba?

By Communications Office RSS Thu, June 14, 2007

A panel of judges in the Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit heard arguments last week from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Miami-Dade County school board over a seemingly innocuous children's book entitled Vamos a Cuba (and its English version A Visit to Cuba). The ACLU's lawsuit challenges the Miami-Dade County school board's decision to remove and ban the book from the public school system's libraries, which "[ignored] the recommendation of their own superintendent and two committees" and "is a slap in the face to our tradition of free speech and the school board’s own standards of due process," according to JoNel Newman, an attorney for the ACLU of Florida. Vamos a Cuba was published in 2001 and is part of a 24-book series for children in kindergarten through second grade that discusses travel around the world and different cultures. The Miami-Dade County school board defends its decision to remove and ban the book--as well as all of the other books in the series, none of which were allegedly reviewed by the school board--arguing that the book does not endeavor to fully and accurately represent the political and economic realities of life in Cuba to its target audience of 5 to 7-year-old readers. The ACLU's lawsuit has the official support of the Florida Library Association, who filed a friend of the court brief as recommended by the organization's Intellectual Freedom Committee. The panel of judges hearing the case is expected to issue a ruling within the next few weeks.

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