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Alaskan School Board Removes Five Supposed ‘Controversial’ Books From Curriculum

Alaskan School Board Removes Five Supposed ‘Controversial’ Books From Curriculum

One board member said “it would be unfair to ask teachers to have to navigate their pupils through the complicated subject matter.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cjIIIdghfM

An Alaskan school board removed five supposed “controversial,” but famous books from its curriculum.

I’m sure you recognize the books. I’m sure you had to read at least one of them in high school, college, or both.

The Matanuska-Susitna Education Association targeted these classics:

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  • Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
  • The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

I exploded when I saw Invisible Man on the list. It’s a fantastic book.

Why would they remove these books? Let’s take a look.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Sexually explicit material, such as the sexual abuse the author suffered as a child, and its “antiwhite” messaging. Angelou’s book, which is part autobiography, part literary fiction, details many real-life events the author experienced from her early life through adulthood. Many of these recollections have led to the book being challenged or banned.

The Great Gatsby: Language and sexual references.

Invisible Man – Language, rape and incest.

Catch-22 – There are a handful of racial slurs, the characters speak with typical “military men” misogyny and racist attitudes of the time. There are scenes of violence both hand to hand and with guns, and violence against women.

The Things They Carried – Profanity and sexual references.

The board members who voted to remove the books provided answers that are just too confusing:

Board member Jeff Taylor asked: “Is there a reason that we include books that we’ve labeled as controversial in our curriculum? I would prefer they were gone.”

Jim Hart who would go on to vote to remove the literature from course work, made this observation: “If I were to read this in a professional environment at my office. I would be dragged to the equal opportunity office.”

Um, what? Hart even said that “it would be unfair to ask teachers to have to navigate their pupils through the complicated subject matter.”

The stupid burns. That is the teacher’s JOB. It’s called critical thinking. The subject matters should make one feel uncomfortable and uneasy.

Here’s the other thing. The summaries the board provided proves exactly why the books should remain in the curriculum. These are not just books or stories. These books provide a gateway to experience another person’s life or just life at a certain point in time. You learn and grow with the characters.

More importantly, these books and authors do a great job of teaching kids literary devices like symbolism, rhetoric, and irony.

I never read Angelou’s book, but to keep kids ignorant about what life was like for black people back in those days is dangerous and irresponsible. Is the school board going to ax Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws from the curriculum?

Dianne K. Shibe, the president of the teachers union, said a lot of people in the community did not respond when the board first brought up removing the books. She said hindsight is 20/20, and all of them “could have seen this coming.”

Now the union will “push board members to reconsider their action.”

The school board’s censorship will not work. Mary Cockle, a bookstore owner close to district headquarters, said these books have flown off the shelves:

“People who had read the books years ago are buying them to read again and to give away,” Cockle said Tuesday. “Our biggest outpouring of support are people buying the books and donating them or leaving them to us to distribute for free.”

A new shipment of “Caged” and “Invisible Man” arrived at Fireside on Tuesday, and Cockle expects them all to be gone by Wednesday.

“I don’t think they realized they were treading on censorship, and people are completely opposed to censorship,” she said.

The board also considered removing The Jungle and A Christmas Carol because a person could interpret the books “as advocating for socialism.” I hate socialism to my core, but come on.

This one got me. They hate A Street in Bronzeville because it shows “too much ‘realism’ in describing racism against African Americans.”

Sorry history bothers you so much. I hate to see what they plan to do with history classes.

I cannot believe they didn’t include The Catcher in the Rye, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Ulysses, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter. The board probably already tossed these titles.

[Featured image via YouTubeYouTube]

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Comments

Close The Fed | April 29, 2020 at 3:11 pm

If it’s about “guiding” students through sexual matter, quite frankly, most teachers thankfully don’t have real world experience with being abused, and they probably don’t understand the implications.

I think I’ve read only one of these, but I get the board’s point. It’s a school, not a therapy setting.

I am speechless! When do they start burning books in the town square?

I expected New Jersey, but Alaska?

I wonder if this is a case of real activism or if the board is just terrified of nonsense lawsuits because a couple of parents are nuts.

I’ve had lawsuits filed against schools where I teach because I had a student ask me if it was possible to tell race/age/sex from a skeleton so I prepared a lesson on it and showed them how. Apparently, it was quite racist to suggest that one can be pretty sure of the race of an individual from only their bones. The lawsuit didn’t go anywhere, but it still took up quite a bit of my time and I’m sure it cost the school money somehow. It was a horrible experience for me when I was a 2nd year teacher.

    txvet2 in reply to Dathurtz. | April 29, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    More than likely there’s nobody on the faculty who’s read any of them, or could comprehend them if they did.

Mary, you used the word “censorship.” MAB is talking of burning books. What is this bullshit?

The article is about the School Board’s removing books from the school curriculum, not from the school library. I did not see anything in the story about censorship, book banning, book burning.

Two of the specified books were too recent for me to have read when I was a school child. As to the other three books, I read them, but they did not make a huge impact on me. I do not think my intellectual, moral or cultural development would have been stunted had I not been force to read The Great Gatsby.

I do not see anything worth creating a stink about in removing these books from the MANDATORY reading list. Forbidding them (censorship) is a different issue.

And if anything by Joyce is on the mandatory reading list, it should be removed at once. Forcing students to read Joyce is only good for building a tolerance against pain! I hated all of his books — I read Joyce only because one of my college roommates was an English major and had both Ulysses and Portrait on hand when I ran out of reading material during a severe blizzard.

Antifundamentalist | April 29, 2020 at 3:55 pm

THese books should be available in the High School library. They really should not be part of a high school curriculum for the reasons stated by the school board. I was absolutely livid when my son was required to read a book that depicted both rape and sexual abuse by family members. While these things do happen to kids, amnd there should be places where such things can be discussed when needed, it should not be required reading in the classroom.

    Part of the reason why they included these books as part of the curriculum is to inform those who might be abused and not talking about it with the belief it is their own fault.

    I’m not sure if it is appropriate or not, but I know they have helped some youth who were going through these type of abuses.

    Not all these books are the same either. I think we have coddled children and not prepared them well for life. Abuse, racism, sexuality, cruelty, are all part of life in the real world. These are not things always talked about at home.

    My children read these books and many others that dealt with such subjects. It opened discussions with them in our family, which might not have been quite as open and in depth without the references to what were in these books.

      Close The Fed in reply to oldgoat36. | April 30, 2020 at 10:56 am

      OGoat, I understand your sentiment and generally agree, however, rather than have them in the curriculum, having them in the library is enough.

      Close The Fed in reply to oldgoat36. | April 30, 2020 at 10:56 am

      OGoat, I understand your sentiment and generally agree, however, rather than have them in the curriculum, having them in the library is enough.

Considering what today’s kids watch on TV, the movie theatre, and online this censorship makes absolutely no sense and his really funny.

    tom_swift in reply to Gersh204. | April 29, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    And what censorship would that be?

    Chieftain in reply to Gersh204. | April 30, 2020 at 2:43 am

    Spouse threw out tv; kids raised without it. Better things to spend their time on. Did have a monitor and VCR/DVD player so there was family selection instead of just accepting what the networks pushed into homes.

My teachers used to tell us a book had parental complaints in order to get us to read it.

“”I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou””

Hillary is going to have a cow.

“One board member said “it would be unfair to ask teachers to have to navigate their pupils through the complicated subject matter.”

Will they remove algebra and calculus from the curriculum, too?

Aren’t teachers supposed to take the complicated and break it down for the students to understand?

    Close The Fed in reply to herm2416. | April 29, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Incest be a whole ‘nother thing.

    Unless you experienced it yourself, or know someone extremely well that experienced it, you don’t know what it causes.

    It’s not like math.

I don’t get it I guess.
censorship would be removing from library and punishing people for obtaining copies and reading them.
not teaching them as part of curriculum is not censorship, its just laziness mixed with cowardliness.
the reasons stated are due to lazy board members afraid to let little snowflakes parents challenge them. they (the parents, the board members, and the snowflakes) seem to think words have innate power, anyone that lets some letters strung together in a certain order have power over them is weak.

    healthguyfsu in reply to dmacleo. | April 29, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    This is still censorship because it removes the onus to read such books in a way that students and teachers can interact, dialogue, and learn about them.

    How would anyone see it as less than authoritarianism over books with mildly uncomfortable content? Banning them from being taught is an unnecessary overreach.

      Matthew Carberry in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 30, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Invert your comment. How is it anything but authoritarianism to require a given book be read simply to teach English? English class is not Sociology, or Ethics, or Debate, and English teachers are not necessarily trained in anything relevant to the discussion of personal, socially controversial, issues. I don’t support the Board’s decision, but to argue it damages the teaching of English qua English is unsupportable.

    Close The Fed in reply to dmacleo. | April 29, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    Children do not Belong to the school system.

    I’d never denigrate parents concerned about what their kids are assigned to read. Never.

    As far as I’m concerned, government schools are a contradiction of terms.

stevewhitemd | April 29, 2020 at 4:40 pm

I read three of these in high school: Caged Bird, Catch-22, and Great Gatsby. Good books. I have no problem with high school students reading them today. I can’t venture an opinion on the other two.

I agree with others here that the average good teacher can help students read, understand, learn and navigate. Some teachers and some students won’t manage this but that is no reason to prevent others from learning.

However, federalism and local control mean just that. If a school board wishes it may remove books from a curriculum. If that turns out to be a foolish decision, the local public can let the local school board know.

We either have federalism or we don’t. The progressives prefer the latter.

Behold The New Establishment, the PC and SJW establishment, in action. Back in the last few decades of the 20th century they opposed banning books. Now we know they only wanted to be the ones to decide which books are banned.

Barry Soetoro | April 29, 2020 at 4:55 pm

There’s no shortage of quality English literature that has no overtly sexual or racist content. A local school board has the authority and responsibility to ensure a high school English Lit curriculum reflects local values.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Of the list I have read all but the Tim O’Brien. Catch-22, Great Gatsby and Invisible Man I read in high school. I know why the Caged Bird Sings I read in college, well for a course, I actually had read the book prior to college. All are well worth reading and certainly appropriate for high school level reading.

Mary, if you haven’t read the Maya Angelou it is well worth your time. It is a painful book to read in places, but good literature can be painful to read when it exposes the heart of the author.

I looked Hart up. ” I would be dragged to the equal opportunity office.” No he needs to be dragged to the gym.

FYI this guy is a democrat and a federal employee.

My daughter was required to read “I Tituba, Black Witch of Salem” in high school. It’s a horrible book.

There are many better choices than the books in that list.

Only The Great Gatsby was required reading in high school for me..9th grade. The rest were in the library. However I don’t remember any of the others with the exception of Invisible Man being considered great literature.

“The board probably already tossed these titles.”

–Either already tossed or waiting till the smoke blows over from this round…

The Progressive Church has deemed these books to be verboten, asserting content that includes diversity (i.e. color judgment, including racism, sexism).

It looks to me like an attempt to whittle out the obsolete deadwood. Even an ambitious curriculum can cover only so much. Selection is not remotely the same thing as censorship; it’s a simple acknowledgement that a school career only lasts so long, and it makes sense to hit the high points and let ex-students fill in some of the rest in the decades following.

If a student was going to be stranded on a desert island with only, say, three books, I genuine can’t say that I think any of the books named should be in the batch. They may have their merits (though I remember most of them as somewhere between unimpressive and negligible) but that hardly means they should edge out better choices just because they’re on somebody’s “great books” list. The vast array of English literature can surely offer a better selection than material which might have been considered cutting-edge and challenging . . . a century ago. A limited reading career (that is to say, a typical one) probably shouldn’t be wasted on self-indulgent word salad like Ulysses, or century-old social critiques like anything from Upton Sinclair. Perhaps more adults would be habitual readers if they weren’t force-fed such dreadful stuff in their impressionable years.

The board also considered removing The Jungle and A Christmas Carol because a person could interpret the books “as advocating for socialism.” I hate socialism to my core, but come on.

Upton Sinclair was advocating for socialism (though not solely that). He even ran for Congress as a Socialist. Dickens, not so obvious, though he was clearly not an enthusiastic fan of free markets.

Alaska’s teacher’s union is like any other union in Alaska. Picture a homeowner’s association board populated solely by Karens, except they have every elected official in the state by the short hairs.

This especially includes the school boards, where the seats are essentially bought and paid for.

I don’t know how Alaska does their standardized testing. It very well may be that these books aren’t as useful at meeting the tested standards than some other books. Lord knows we all have almost 2 years (with a usual class) of material to cover every year these days. The comments from the board member make it seem like that isn’t the case unless he is just trying to offer some weird SJW cover for a simple curriculum decision. But…that decision shouldn’t take place at the board level, anyways.

We have I do believe, the highest per student spending in the Nation.
And we are near the bottom end on GPA.

They seem to believe schools here are an unlimited public works project.
I wouldn’t dream of letting my girls attend public school here.
The Liberals are firmly in control.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was such an influence on me that I wrote a 100k word Young Adult novel based on it. I’m not sure if that’s a blow against censorship (due to my questionable talent) but I’m pretty darned proud of it, and I’m certain my positive experience with the novel has been echoed many, many times over the years by many other young readers.

I don’t understand the outrage. The Board did not vote to ban the books or to remove them from the library. The Board simply updated the mandated curriculum. So? There are FAR more quality books than could possibly be covered in an average high school’s curriculum. It is the job of the Board to judge which books that it wants the local schools to cover. If the people who live in that area disagree with the Board’s choices, then they can replace the Board members. I cannot for the life of me understand why the author of this piece has her hair on fire over this.

This may be overly optimistic, but maybe there is an outside chance the school board wants to avoid hassles and lawsuits based on perceived micro agressions and other such non-sense when tender minds- it does snow a lot in Alaska after all, no flake shortage-are exposed to words and ideas outside their bubble? Not likely, I know.

I can’t think of a book which better covers the covid fiasco than catch-22. You know something is good when George Clooney is inspired to make a bad version of it. Isn’t Nately’s whore all about female empowerment?

BierceAmbrose | April 29, 2020 at 10:21 pm

One board member said “it would be unfair to ask teachers to have to navigate their pupils through the complicated subject matter.”

Indoctrination makes things simpler, and the subjects weaker. When the grand narrative finally fails the ungrown larva are pretty bad off. In the meanwhile, they have it easy.

Ecuation makes things more complicated, but the subjects stronger. Also more flexible, adaptive, n resiliant. Challenged to live outside their narrative, they grown muscles to make their way when the story they brought with them fails. In the meanwhile, they aren’t the best cogs in an encompassing machine.

The question really, is do you think it’s the end of history, now, and you have it wired. If not, maybe let people grow to be able to address what you haven’t. Sadly, many of the folks “in charge” in our world in fact think they are god. Worse, their folly tends to land on not them — Taleb is work to read but his “Skin in the Game” is important.

Ok so a local school board, after inviting and not receiving much input from parents and the community, voted to alter their curriculum. Did I miss something? Why the outrage?

I suppose that one could and should be upset about the comment to the effect that it is unfair to ask teachers to guide students through these controversial/thought provoking works.
I thought that was the whole point of the shot in educational institutions to intersectionality.

IMO, this episode demonstrates the need for ‘eternal vigilance’ with local government bodies. If changes get made while you weren’t paying attention that is on you.

I have read all these. Personally I hated Gatsby in HS, tried to read it again about ten years after completing two degrees at the insistence of my then girlfriend and still couldn’t stomach it. Turns out I couldn’t stomach her either come to think of it.

I would note it doesn’t say which grades or ages these are for. They are adult content.

So pornographic and obscene writing is normalized?
Maybe they can show Debbie Does Dallas, Deep Throat, and get PornHub subscriptions.

We complain about the cultural rot, then get upset when someone tries to do something about it.

Do you have any children? If so do you try to monitor what they are watching?

    kyrrat in reply to tz. | April 30, 2020 at 2:54 am

    My son just finished reading the Great Gatsby for 10th grade english. In a Catholic school. It is not obscene, nor is it content I would bar my child from reading. Catch22 is generally senior year. Caged bird would be ok senior year as well.

I don’t see why a school should make students read any novels at all. I don’t think they would be worse off or less well educated if literature qua literature were dropped from the curriculum altogether. I understand that to educate kids about the subject of writing in general they have to read something, and it might as well be something good. But there are plenty of good and well-written books, even novels, that are completely neutral.

Even regarding school libraries I don’t understand why it’s such a terrible thing for them not to stock some books. Schools don’t have to have libraries in the first place, and if they do have them they certainly don’t have to stock everything, so why not be selective? And if they are being selective, on what grounds do you exclude Mein Kampf and Mao’s Little Red Book but insist that The Jungle must be carried?

PS: I’ve never read anything by Angelou, and doubt the value of doing so.

    txvet2 in reply to Milhouse. | April 30, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    The main reason is to make them literate, although I realize that’s old fashioned. Teaching them basic grammar doesn’t get the job done, as a quick read through any twitter or comment thread will demonstrate (LI being in general a significant exception).

      Milhouse in reply to txvet2. | April 30, 2020 at 11:16 pm

      Teaching basic grammar and composition is the job, and while it is necessary to use actual examples of good writing to show how it’s done I don’t see any need to use this as an opportunity to also teach literature. English can be taught just as well through well-written but unimportant books as by important ones, as well as through horribly written books as examples of what not to do and why. In fact it seems to me that a novel’s message can get in the way of the writing itself, which is supposed to be the subject; and the more controversial that message the more it will tend to do so.

      I don’t see why literature per se should be taught at all in school. Let people discover it or not, themselves. I don’t think a well-read person is in any way a better person than someone who hasn’t read much; some people do improve themselves by reading but many do not, or even become worse.

It begs the question, “what books are on the curriculum?”
I have no problem with schools deciding what they want to teach. Book removals because of an axe to grind is a wrong approach to education. Rather curriculum decisions of English book selections should be based upon what books are considered by the community to be of the greatest education value to the targeted students.
Students cannot read everything. There will always be disagreements.

Catch 22 is about bureaucracies, not the military. Also as I recall it was very favorable towards native Americans.

Almost everything my high school teachers wanted us to read was excruciatingly boring. I thanked God every six weeks for Classics Illustrated.

Among my favorite authors were Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. If someone doesn’t think Heinlein could write social commentary, I suggest “Farnham’s Freehold” and “I Will Fear No Evil.”
.

    Milhouse in reply to DSHornet. | April 30, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Freehold could never be published today. Even in its day it pushed the line.

    Fear is not his best work, because he was still editing it when he got sick, and Ginny ended up preparing it for publication. But here’s something that infuriates SJW types: What is Eunice’s race? You can’t tell. Heinlein carefully gave no clue. He had pictures of a white woman and a black woman in front of him, and for each line he gave Eunice he looked at the pictures and tried to imagine each of them saying it; if it didn’t sound right for one of them he rewrote it.

    Public Citizen in reply to DSHornet. | April 30, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    You might consider adding Starship Trooper to the list.
    It is actually a political tract disguised as a Science Fiction Novel, and a good one at that.
    Viewed from a certain perspective, and mine is as a lifelong Heinlein fan and fellow Navy Veteran, much of Heinlein’s body of work has some sort of lesson to impart that may prove useful in dealing with the vicissitudes of life.
    I’ve read much of the works of Assimov and Clark, along with a long list of authors of fiction Science and otherwise, and while entertaining and often absorbing fiction they never had the life impact for me that Heinlein’s works have had.

      Milhouse in reply to Public Citizen. | April 30, 2020 at 11:00 pm

      I wouldn’t call Troopers social commentary. Nor would I call it “disguised as a novel”. It is a real and good novel. It’s political as hell, yes. The whole point of the novel was to glorify the role of the ordinary infantryman at a time when the military was getting a bad rap in public opinion. But for my money his best political novel was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

      By the way, Troopers plays a bit of the same racial game as Evil; throughout the novel there is no clue given that the protagonist is Filipino, until it’s disclosed in a throwaway line on the very last page. That was on purpose. And it’s something no movie could portray, even a good one, let alone the piece of trash that was made; but given the lack of choice, a white actor should in my opinion not have been cast in that role.

      Also of political interest is the contrast between Podkayne of Mars and the first half of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls; written decades apart they should really be read together. They present two sides of the “company town” in an anarcho-capitalist society; Podkayne shows one that works well; Cat shows one that doesn’t.

      Unfortunately I think Cat should have ended halfway through; it’s divided into two sections, and in my opinion the first section harks back to his juvies of the ’50s, and could stand alone, but the second section stinks. The book should have ended with the wounded protagonist bleeding out in a corridor, with the reader not knowing whether he lives or dies, much as Podkayne ended. (There were two endings written for Podkayne, one in which she lives and one in which she dies.

      Milhouse in reply to Public Citizen. | April 30, 2020 at 11:03 pm

      Another racial aspect to a Heinlein novel: Sixth Column was based on an explicitly racist outline that John Campbell gave him, and yet he managed to turn it into a non-racist and even anti-racist novel. Because that’s who he was.

Matthew Carberry | April 30, 2020 at 1:33 pm

While all the books are worthwhile reads in my opinion, I read them all in school in the ’80s, in Honors and AP classes, they are not uniquely so. And I am unconvinced that an English class requires the reading and analysis of anything but well-written, and hopefully engaging, books. I have yet to see a valid rational argument that the topics must also be socially “challenging” to simply properly teach English composition and reading comprehension.

Again, I think the Board is making a bad choice vis-a-vis these particular books, but if the decision of the community, the parents of the students is that they don’t want certain controversial social topics discussed in school, that is their right, for better or worse. Even if they do want those topics covered, it is asinine to claim that an English class is necessarily the best venue. While some may be, English teachers are not necessarily educated in the relevant academic fields of those topics (sociology, criminology, history, political philosophy, etc) nor necessarily trained to deal with student reactions to them. Some of those topics might be better dealt with in other classes, by teachers with more direct education and training.

I found several of the school board’s members online. At least some of them appear to be motivated by evangelical beliefs. I sent the following message to them.

—-

If you knew me, you would appreciate the self-discipline behind this message. My first reaction to your having removed five books from the high school curriculum was pretty venomous and I came here ready to blast you to smithereens. Instead, I will try to use the brain and reasoning ability that the Creator gave me and try to persuade you to admit your mistake and reverse it.

I read three of the five books you removed from your curriculum in high school: Gatsby, Invisible Man, Catch-22. I’ve done a lot of reading in my life, and I regard Invisible Man in particular as one of the great American classics. If you haven’t read it, please find it.

I’m not going to call myself a theologian, but six years in a parochial elementary school gave me a pretty good idea of the basics. We start, of course, with the entire purpose of Jesus Christ on earth: To bring us the idea that everyone can be redeemed, somehow and somewhere. To me, everything else He said is in a distant second place.

The other core Christian idea is free will, or agency: We make our own decisions, and we are responsible to God for the consequences. We do not blindly obey; we obey because our God-given brains and reason lead us in that direction.

How can anyone have that agency unless they are exposed not just to the good, but to its opposite? The three books I cited do not glorify or advocate violence or misbehavior. Quite the opposite. They are deeply moral, and I consider it wrong and even immoral to try to shield young minds from the timeless realities, which include the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Yes, the kids can still get the books and read them on their own. But that’s a dodge, because your board’s intend was to reduce exposure to these ideas.

By exercising a sort of “soft censorship,” I think you’ve committed the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins. You’ve committed Pride, the fountainhead of the other six. You’ve decided that you will interfere with the elements of agency. That’s wrong, and not just a little wrong.

I was also struck by this: “It would be unfair to ask teachers to have to navigate their pupils through the complicated subject matter.”

Sir, that is exactly what teachers are there to do. The great literature is timeless and honest. It compels the reader to face truths, many of them uncomfortable. Violence? Read your Bible. Or read Homer’s “The Iliad,” the ancient Greek classic that is infinitely more violent than any other book I’ve read. Want to keep that one away? How about Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” which deals with racism quite directly, in the vernacular of the day? Ban that, too?

So: Please think it through. Your board is wrong, and some of the rarest words in the English language are these: “I was wrong. I am sorry. I will try to make things right.” This is the time to find the courage and the humility to say so, and to make it right.

Thanks for listening and you must remember this: By virtue of being human, we will fail. We will make mistakes. What happens next is the true test of character.

    Public Citizen in reply to RandomCrank. | April 30, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    I posted my own brief observations before reading your own elegantly penned missive.
    Consider this not just a note in approval, but a standing ovation.

“I don’t think they realized they were treading on censorship, and people are completely opposed to censorship,” she said.”

I wish that were true.

For certain novels, nationwide government banning is merely the “gentlest” approach, such as Canadians use:

https://christopherdiarmani.com/4687/human-rights/freedom-of-speech/freedom-to-read-what-you-like-not-in-canada/

The USA response to the same novels apparently extends to sending agents under false pretexts to interview relatives to construct a case to indict you:

http://www.spectacle.org/0900/vin.html

I will note in passing that the phrase “conspiracy to instruct” has appeared on any number of federal indictments. I feel confident that the teachers quoted in this article are simply evading the possibility of being subject to any such charge.

Public Citizen | April 30, 2020 at 6:39 pm

“Navigating pupils through complex material” is what being a teacher is all about.
If that is above your capabilities, and the material has been appropriate for the level being taught then maybe the problem isn’t with the material, or the students, but with the [incompetents] that are given teaching credentials.

It is remarkable how Philistine and pro-censorship many of the comments are in this thread from a supposedly conservative, intelligent group of readers. I was particularly struck by the number of posts which criticized the inclusion of several books in a curriculum solely because you had found it boring. How many of you would be in favor of eliminating analytic geometry or trigonometry from the high school curriculum because you had found these boring in high school?
The problem is that so many of you expect to be entertained by literature, sort of like Marvel Comics. There are also additional reasons for studying literature, not just for its entertainment value. Hint: not all of them are to teach collectivism either. Or atheism. I would have hoped that something other than Know-Nothingism would be displayed on this website.

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