A federal judge has slapped down the Miami-Dade school district's removal of all copies of Alta Schreier's Vamos a Cuba, (the English edition is called Visit to Cuba) and all other books in Heinemann's Visit to . . . series from the district's school libraries. The suit to retain the books is ongoing, but the school board had removed the books pending judgment. Not. So. Fast. said U.S. District Judge Alan Gold, whose opinion, linked here as a pdf file, provides not only a comprehensive review of judicial decisions regarding schools and censorship, but also a sharp look at how censors seek to disguise their actions (here the school board claimed that their action constituted "government speech" and thus free of judicial oversight. Who do they think they are, the President?).
The case seems to be quite the political futbol in Miami, too. Opponents of the book, one of those cookie-cutter series books about foreign countries for primary grades, object to its lack of commentary on Castro's regime; some objected to the photos of people smiling (just as Ayn Rand did in front of the HUAC). While Vamos a Cuba/Visit to Cuba was the object of the ban, apparently they went for the series in general so as to claim content neutrality. The judge saw through that one, too; I think I'm in love. Miami Herald education reporter Matthew I. Pinzur's blog is also tracking this story; check it out.
Here is the official Horn Book Guide line on the book, which was reviewed together with Visit to Puerto Rico, in the same series. Rating the books as "5s" (not good), our reviewer Elena Abos wrote: "These books offer superficial introductions to the geography, people, customs, language, and daily life in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The formulaic texts are almost identical for both countries, and neither contains more than the barest amount of information. The large-print texts are accompanied by color photographs of varying quality and relevance. Short lists of facts and of nine Spanish words are appended."