Friday June 23, 2006


In any prospective legal challenge, the basis for the removal will be highly scrutinized to ascertain to what extent the Board made a comprehensive review and analysis of the appropriateness of this book being part of an elementary school library’s collection. The Board’s findings—as indicated by the record of the proceedings—will also be reviewed by any party challenging the Board’s decision to determine if those findings are constitutionally valid. Therefore it is exceedingly important that the Board identify with specificity the legal grounds for any Board decision, particularly any decision that deviates from the DMRC’s recommendations. Moreover, it is our opinion that even a well reasoned decision by the Board that deviates from DMRC’s recommendations will expose the Board to liability.

That’s from a memo submitted by the Miami School Board’s Attorney, re Vamos a Cuba. “Identify with specificity the legal grounds for any Board decision?” How about “There’s a passion of hate. I can’t vote my conscience without feeling threatened.” What a bunch of knuckleheads. Here’s the whole memo in stark PDF beauty. (via SotP)


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  1. Franklin    Fri Jun 23, 03:55 PM #  

    You should have seen the letter I wrote to the school board.

  2. Kent Standit    Sat Jun 24, 09:29 AM #  

    Very helpful, Franklin. You should have seen the fish I caught last week: it was THIS BIG….but it got away.

    Those of us in the business of making words and expressing thoughts might find it within themselves to do something somewhat more useful and concrete, like sending a check to the local ACLU in support of its efforts to stop this shit. Letters are fine—I’ll take you at your word that you actually wrote and sent one; it’s all we have, right?—but money talks.

  3. Franklin    Sat Jun 24, 01:41 PM #  

    It went like this:

    Dear Kent,

    Bite me.


    Except that it was addressed to the school board, and said something sort of different. Letters of protest and donations to the ACLU are both decent ideas, and as it happens, not mutually exclusive ones. Board e-mail addresses here.

  4. Kent Standit    Sun Jun 25, 06:33 PM #  

    Whoa! SNAP! Duh! Poignant minimalist response with even minimalister content! Figures.

    No, Professor, the two are not mutually exclusive, although I suspect from your comment, in your case they are. You need not put up OR shut up, but wouldn’t it be nicer to do neither?

    In the same spirit of your provision of email contact info for the board, Here is the email address to make your ACLU donation. Please use your next comment to confirm your commitment.

  5. Franklin    Mon Jun 26, 07:33 AM #  

    Thank you for the invitation, but my conscience answers to a higher authority than Critical Miami and its motley cast of pseudonymous trollbaiters. You’ll have to wonder.

  6. Kent Standit    Mon Jun 26, 09:31 AM #  

    You’re welcome. BTW: “Trollbaiters” is redundant. Look.
    Unless you’re referring to yourself, which, while you do quite often, probably isn’t the case this time. You’re just hurt, upset, and wrong.

    A donation to the ACLU or any charitable organization has nothing to do with your conscience, which is your own private business. Nobody even needs to know you contributed, let alone how much, or why you bothered, unless you announce it. Sort of like your first post, except it makes a genuine difference, and isn’t nearly as self-serving.

    But suit yourself. The rest of us will stick around when the fight starts.

  7. Val Prieto    Mon Jun 26, 11:32 AM #  


    How about we edit your quote “I can’t vote my conscience without feeling threatened.” to make it actually, you know, realistic:

    “I can’t vote my conscience and get re-elected.”

    Ive stated that I have problems with the removal of the book publicly. Ive also stated that having that book as a “reference” book implying that it depicts actual facts is absurd. That said, I think any board member that votes one way and then publicly makes a statement denouncing said vote and condemning a good portion of the community, WITHOUT ACTUAL PROOF OF SAME, is an idiot and political posturer and doesnt deserve to be sitting on any board whatsoever.

    His constituents elected him specifically so that he WOULD vote his conscious. He didnt and no one is to blame but himself. Remember that come election time, but dont denigrate the Cuban-American community with slander and ridiculous implications.

  8. alesh    Mon Jun 26, 01:02 PM #  

    Val~ Exactly. I think we need all sorts of fresh blood on the school board, actually.

    By the way, I’m considering a ban on pun-based pseudonyms. They seem to lead to antagonistic tendencies.

  9. nonee moose    Mon Jun 26, 01:30 PM #  

    i resent that…. and i agree with val…

  10. gansibele    Mon Jun 26, 02:20 PM #  

    Pleeeeeease Val. All the Cuban American members of that board are disregarding the advice of their own advisory panel and their legal counsel, voting the way they know is going to get them reelected. Ingram’s statement may have been ridiculous, but so were everyboy else’s. Yes, we need fresh blood on that board – all of them actually. For too long the school board has been nothing but a springboard to further political advancement, for too long all a candidate has to say is “I’m anti-Castro” and their actual educational credentials are irrelevant. How about voting in a responsible government kind of way (isn’t that a conservative mantra?) one that’s not going to bring a lawsuit they are sure to lose, wasting hundreds of thousands of our money? How about voting the American way, for freedom of speech and debate, even if it goes against your personal ideals?

  11. Roger L    Mon Jun 26, 03:24 PM #  

    How bout putting the book in the fiction section of the library (Next to the books that talk about Jews being well fed under Hitler and how they played in flowery fields)

  12. Merkin    Mon Jun 26, 03:46 PM #  

    Roger that, Roger! Next to this.

  13. Franklin    Mon Jun 26, 04:59 PM #  

    The fight already started, Kent, and found you chirping insults from behind your pseudonym while the rest of us were saying what we think and signing our names on it.

    I’m not interested in school reform unless it takes place on the level of suggestions made by John Taylor Gatto. The board is only one aspect of a delusional system.

  14. Rick    Mon Jun 26, 08:35 PM #  

    Actually Val, as you, know, you’ve expressed opinions on both sides of this issue. I’m not really clear where you’re coming from exactly.

    You were very clear on April 6th when you stated on Babalu:

    Now I’m quite sure that that the book is 100% propaganda and therefore worthless garbage but I’m not too fond of banning books. Book banning is what the Nazis did. It’s what the Bolsheviks did. It’s what castro does. A free society does not ban books.

    But then on June 6th:

    Much to our chagrin, the panel put together to decide on the fate of the book “Vamos a Cuba” in Dade County Public School libraries voted to keep said book on the shelves. While a final decision is forthcoming, we all know that chances are that our Cuban-American community’s opinion will be brushed aside and ignored. Oh, we’ll be given the usual token “we’ll look into it” or “we’ve taken into account your feelings on the matter” mumbo jumbo, but in the end, our opinion will not have made a damned bit of difference.

    Maybe you changed your mind, I don’t know. But since there has been nothing that I’ve seen until this thread to indicate your position since the school board’s decision, I’ve been assuming that you were for the ban. What a welcome surprise it must have been for you to have the Cuban-American community’s opinion considered in the school board’s decision.

    Now I read your comment above saying that you again “have problems with the ban.”

    I’m honestly confused.

  15. alesh    Tue Jun 27, 09:24 AM #  

    Rick, if you’re right, all you’ve demonstrated is that Val is ambivalent on the issue. Personally I see absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. In fact, I think uncertainty is a very good intellectual position – the opposite of a snap judgement, which too many people seem too eager to make.

    At some point I linked to a great essay Val wrote on this (before the vote). He explored the pros and cons of the issue and vividly illustrated Cuban-American’s perspective and emotional relationship to the issue. It deserves to be read.

    The conclusion he comes to there is that the book should not be removed, but “Put the book where it belongs, in the FICTION section. Right there next to Nancy Drew and Charlotte’s Web, a few bookshelves away from Green Eggs and Ham.”

    Well, I take that to be tongue-in-cheek, and not a real suggestion, so we’re back at ambivalence. I suppose Val can say if I’m wrong, but I have no problem with his lack of position personally.

  16. gansibele    Tue Jun 27, 11:03 AM #  

    Actually, Val has made that suggestion several times. I think he’s serious.

    Flawed too, because his main criticism about the book is not that it contains lies but that it ommits the dark areas. That makes it unbalanced maybe (debatable since it’s supposed to be a very general look at children’s life in Cuba) but not fiction.

  17. Kent Standit    Tue Jun 27, 01:06 PM #  

    You should have seen the letter I wrote to the school board.—Franklin, doing his pale imitation of Patrick Henry.

    If that’s “saying what you think and signing your name to it,” and “the fight that already started,” make mine butter pecan. Fortunately, just among the local bloggers, mkh, Klotz as in Blood, Manola, and Andy Diaz sent in their checks to the ACLU as well as addressed the issue out where the rest of us can see it.

    Independence Day is right around the corner. What say we ask the school board to donate the books for July 4 barbecue and book burning in Jose Marti Park? Maybe we can bring tears to a statue’s eyes.

  18. Franklin    Tue Jun 27, 02:32 PM #  

    Funny you mention Henry, Kent – I just cited him in a rather delightful exchange I’m having with Augustin Berrera, chair of the school board, via e-mail. I just reread the Give Me Liberty speech. “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” What I would give to have such men back in power.

  19. Rick    Tue Jun 27, 03:05 PM #  

    Alesh: I’m not really trying to demonstrate anything. Just merely trying to figure out where the man honestly stands on the issue.