And no, it's not the first time.Add a Comment
And no, it's not the first time.Add a Comment
Cory Doctorow at boingboing:
My publisher, Tor Books, is sending 200 free copies of the paperback of my novel Little Brother to Booker T Washington High School, because it's the first school where any of my novels has been challenged by the school administration. Little Brother had been selected and approved as the school's summer One School/One Book reading pick, and the school librarian Betsy Woolley had worked with Mary Kate Griffith from the English department to develop an excellent educational supplement for the students to use to launch their critical discussions in the fall. The whole project had been signed off on by the school administration and it was ready to go out to the students when the principal intervened and ordered them to change the title.
So that's going on.Add a Comment
From the Lebanon Democrat:
The book in question, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time,” was banned from the reading list at the board’s May 5 meeting and was removed from the possession of students soon after. However, the books were given back to students on the advice of school board attorney Mike Jennings due to a possible conflict with a board policy.
“The word ban was a bad choice of words. I wanted it removed from the reading list, but instead we go out and start removing books from libraries and kids arms and they couldn’t do reports. That was not the intent of that,” said board member Wayne McNeese, who made the original motion.
After going back and reading the previous articles multiple times, comparing McNeese's comments here to his comments a few weeks ago... I have written and erased so many snarky responses that I've lost track. Because it seems to me that he wants it both ways: for the book not to be in use at the school, AND for people to not see him as a censor.
I just figure if you're going to go for it, OWN IT.Add a Comment
From Star News Online:
Wood is disturbed by profanity and sexual references in the book, written from the perspective of a Native American teenager. She cites her religious beliefs and "good morals" as to why she wants it off library shelves and out of students' hands.
"I'm Christian, OK? This is disgusting to me. It's very undesirable for our children to be reading, much less being taught, this kind of thing in a classroom." Wood said. "We don't use these words in Christian homes. I object to these words. I object to the masturbation."
While she has no children of her own enrolled in the district, Wood asked, "Is not every adult on this Earth responsible for the souls of all our children?"
What she seems to be suggesting here is that everyone in the world should conform to her exact same value system and worldview.
Which, obviously, doesn't work for me.
She also seems to assume that she's speaking for all Christians, everywhere, which I'm pretty sure is inaccurate.
Anyway. We shall see what happens.
In case the school district sounds familiar to you: It's the same place where The Color Purple was challenged (and retained) earlier this year.Add a Comment
From The World:
NORTH BEND — Students in a North Bend High AP history and literature class are frustrated and confused after school administrators pulled Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” from their classroom last week.
On May 9, Dustin Hood and Scott Peters’ American Connections class started learning about post-World War II America. The class pairs history with literature, following literary movements in different eras. Peters complemented the history lesson with an assignment in postmodern literature: Read the first 30 pages of “The Bluest Eye” over the weekend.
Peters prefaced the assignment by telling his class of 40 students about the controversial content. If they didn’t want to read it, they didn’t have to, he said. Six opted out and chose to read a different book.
But the following Monday, Principal Bill Lucero came to the class with a box and asked the rest of the students to hand over their copies of “The Bluest Eye.”
There's a lot of great quotes in the article—it's well worth clicking through for the whole story.Add a Comment
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A panel of parents, teachers and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school officials voted unanimously Wednesday to keep a book that uses the word "retarded" in the libraries of nine district schools.
Jenna Boutain, a Farmington resident whose daughter attends a district school, requested in April that the book "Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You" by Barthe DeClements be removed from schools because it uses a derogatory term for students with special needs.
From the CBC:
A committee made up of teachers, a parent and librarians recently reviewed the novel and gave it a passing grade.
But Audet says he isn't backing down and is now considering legal action.
I read Perks pretty recently, and wow. If Audet describes it as pornographic, he must find network television completely appalling.
Anyway, the weirdest thing about this entire story? Is the book the school gave as an alternate: Rick Riordan's Son of Neptune.Add a Comment
From the Lebanon Democrat:
Sparks said the decision was made to return the book to the reading list upon advice from county attorney Mike Jennings concerning a board policy that was possibly violated by banning the book.
Sparks said Friday she advised school administrators Thursday to put the book back on the reading list and return them to students. That action came after the books were taken away from students the day before when the board’s vote was set in motion.
“Because there is a policy and the board didn’t follow the policy, they are not following through with that so they can review the policy when they meet again in June,” Sparks said. “The books have been returned to the students, and they were not removed from the library shelves. It shouldn’t have been implemented because it violated a board policy. [Jennings] said we should follow our policy before implementing any change, and we are trying to do that.”
There's more to it, so click on through to read the whole article.Add a Comment
From the Christian Science Monitor:
A New Hampshire resident was handcuffed and led out of a school board meeting on May 5 after he protested the fact that his ninth-grade daughter was assigned the novel “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult.
According to police, Gilford father William Baer “spoke out of order,” said Lt. James Leach. “Someone else was given the floor and was speaking. He interrupted them and continued after being asked to stop. He was then asked to leave and refused to leave unless he was arrested, so he was arrested.”
Considering the amount of press he's getting out of this, that he was told he'd be arrested if he didn't stop disrupting the meeting, and that he TOLD THE ARRESTING OFFICER TO ARREST HIM, it sounds to me like getting arrested is EXACTLY what he wanted. So the shock/horror/dismay he has been exhibiting in interviews comes off as a tad disingenuous.
"It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down," he said. "Sit down and shut up, basically, and that's not how you interact with adults."
Baer said he believes what happened at the meeting was a violation of his First Amendment rights. The board said it imposed the two-minute rule to give everyone a chance to be heard, but Baer refused to stop when his time was up.
Enforcing the rules of order at a public meeting? Is not a violation of someone's First Amendment rights. I suspect that if he'd been in the audience, listening to someone go on and on and on—especially if it was someone he disagreed with—that he'd have been ALL ABOUT enforcing the rules of order.
The school department sent WBZ a statement explaining it has revised its policy for letting parents know about books being read. “The district will take immediate action to revise these policies to include notification that requires parents to accept controversial material rather than opt out. Furthermore, the notification will detail more specifically the controversial material,” wrote Sue Allen, Chair of the Gilford School Board.
Two more notes:
1. Boo on CBS for this headline: Father Arrested For Protesting Racy Novel At NH High School. By calling it a 'Racy Novel', CBS, you are making a value judgment about the story, not just reporting it.
2. I've read the passage in question—according to WMUR, it's on page 313—and while it showcases the words "erection", "pumping", and "semen", it doesn't come close to reading like "...the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie". IN FACT—and keep in mind that as I haven't read the book, I read it out of context—it reads as pretty damn rapey to me. At the VERY LEAST, while it is certainly a depiction of sex, it doesn't come close to being titillating.
All of that is beside the point, though, as judging a 455-page book on less than a page of text isn't helpful, reasonable, or intellectually honest.Add a Comment
The School board removed an award-winning book from their reading lists due to profanity Monday.
The issue was brought up by School Board member Wayne McNeese, who had spoken about his objection to the profanity in the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon in meetings before. He was troubled that it was on the preferred reading lists because it contains profanity.
“It’s repulsive,” said McNeese of the language.
So. Was there no challenge committee, no process, no nothing? Just this one Board member taking issue with the book being on a list of RECOMMENDED (read: not required) reading, and then the Board voting to take it off the list, without necessarily even having read it for themselves? Because that's sure what I gathered from the article.
ETA: And this one, too.Add a Comment
From the Detroit Free Press:
The book, titled “Perfectly Normal,” contains cartoon drawings of naked people and others involved in sexual acts. It’s available at middle school libraries. And although it indicates it’s meant for kids 10 years and up, it’s still making some parents uncomfortable.
“Most of the time, when I showed this to parents, their jaws just hit the floor,” parent Tim Schmidt said. “They were shocked and then their next reaction was outrage.”
The article incorrectly lists the title as Perfectly Normal, and doesn't mention Robie Harris by name, but the somewhat A Current Affair--ish (i.e. fear-mongering, HIGH DRAMA, SCARY PIXELATED IMAGES) segment at KSDK shows the cover of the book.
This is a great example of how much tone and inflection can affect the way that we ingest information: the written article is basically just a transcription of the television spot, but it comes off as pretty dry and straightforward, whereas the televised version of the story comes off as totally leaning in the ZOMG THERE ARE NEKKID CARTOONS IN OUR SCHOOLS WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN direction.Add a Comment
From the Global News:
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss “encourages children to use violence against their fathers” and should be removed from the Toronto Public Library.
That, according to a complaint to the city’s library that wanted to see the book by the beloved children’s author removed from the shelves. The complainant also demanded the Toronto Public Library “issue an apology to fathers in the GTA and pay for damages resulting from the book.”
The library refused, noting the book is “humorous” and “well-loved by children,” it regularly appears on “best of” lists, Dr. Seuss was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and well, the children “are actually told not to hop on pop.”
See the full list here.Add a Comment
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A parent in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schools wants administrators to pull a book from nine elementary school libraries because it uses a term for people with cognitive disabilities that many say is derogatory.
Jenna Boutain, a Farmington resident and district employee, filed a request April 10 to have "Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You" removed from district elementary schools after it was given to her child as part of an accelerated-reader list.
A district committee will consider her request May 14.
Boutain works with students with special needs at Falcon Ridge Middle School, according to the district's website. She did not respond to requests for comment.
A school official offered to restrict Boutain's children's access to the book, and she agreed, but decided to continue with her petition to remove the book from district libraries, records show.
From LGBTQ Nation:
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Following a public hearing Wednesday, in which more than two dozen residents gave their opinions on whether the book should be censored, including on letter submitted by the author himself, the review committee voted not to remove the book from the school library.
“This book is not about sex,” said committee member Rev. Joie Clee Weiher when she gave her decision to retain the book. “Heated scenes of kissing are merely a hook, a draw for young people to read a book about relationships, respect and the deeper concerns of the human situation."
From the letter:
These and other reviews attest to the literary and educational value of the book. In contrast, no legitimate pedagogical rationale has been advanced for its removal, and it is highly doubtful that any legitimate justification could be advanced, especially for removing the book from the library, the purpose of which is to give students the opportunity to explore books on their own, according to their own interests, views and values.
See also: the related press release.
See also: an article from the school newspaper:
After a group of students noticed the cover of David Levithan’s 2013 novel, Two Boys Kissing, parent Jessica Wilson launched a book challenge to remove it from FHS’s library. The complaint was officially filed on the grounds that the picture on the book’s cover, which features two boys kissing, violated the school’s policy of no public displays of affection. Furthermore, Wilson was concerned that the book had overt sexual content.
In that article, there's a quote from the challenger:
“The good thing about appealing is that it opens the matter up to public debate,” Wilson said. “It’s not like this isn’t a book that I wouldn’t let my kids read, but it’s the fact that it’s in a school. Books like The Scarlet Letter and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest don’t embrace sexuality. They have consequences, and it’s integral to the story. When you’re a teenager, it’s normal to question your sexuality, your faith, but the school isn’t your nanny; it isn’t up to the school to provide this guidance.”
I'm fascinated by her logic here: she says that the school "isn't your nanny" and that it isn't up to the school to "provide [this] guidance", but it seems to me that in asking for the library to only include stories in which sexual contact has "consequences", that's EXACTLY what she's asking the school to be and to do.Add a Comment
From the NYT:
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The College of Charleston, a public university, provided copies of Ms. Bechdel’s memoir to incoming students for the 2013-14 academic year, as part of its annual College Reads! program that tries to encourage campus-wide discussion around a single book each year. The books are not required reading.
But one state representative, Garry Smith, told South Carolina newspapers this winter that he had received a complaint about “Fun Home” from a constituent whose daughter was a freshman at the college. Mr. Smith contacted the college to ask about other options for College Reads!, and said he was told there were none. Mr. Smith then proposed cutting $52,000 – roughly equivalent to the cost of the reading program, he said – from the college’s $20 million appropriation from the state. The budget cut is now moving through the legislature; South Carolina news media coverage indicates some sizable political support for the cut.
Fauquier County Public Schools has received a request from a parent to withdraw from student use the book “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan which is a part of the high schools’ library collections. A school committee at Fauquier High School decided to retain the book in its library collection, and the parent is appealing the decision to the superintendent.
Fauquier.com: Venue changes for public hearing on ‘Two Boys Kissing’
Advocate.com: Op-ed: Banning Books, Risking LivesAdd a Comment
From the Guardian:
Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Fifty Shades of Grey, by EL James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
From Star News Online:
A second attempt to get "The Color Purple" removed from Brunswick County Schools has been denied, and a third challenge is already on its way, the school district announced Tuesday.
In her complaint, [Brunswick County Commissioner Pat] Sykes said she objected to "the immorality, the filth, the F word and the N word." The complaint says she only read parts of the book, through "pages attached, plus summary and CliffNotes."
The book is on 11th-grade advanced placement English reading lists, but the district has a policy allowing students or parents who don't agree with a book's content to request alternate reading material.
Yeesh, it probably would have been less reading if she'd just read the whole book. It's, what, like 250 pages long? And then, GOSH. All of those "filthy" excerpts she read would have, you know, CONTEXT.
I mean, sure, she very well might still not like it, but at least then she'd be challenging something that she was well-versed in. I'm always a little bit surprised when challenge policies don't require the challenger to have read the entire work in question.Add a Comment
The Brunswick County school board voted Friday to keep Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" in district classrooms and libraries but plans to consider placing restrictions on it at an upcoming meeting.
The decision was a reversal of a vote minutes earlier to remove the book. The votes followed a hearing that drew a crowd of people and speakers for and against removing the book.
Here's a bit more about that whole "reversal of a vote minutes earlier" part:
Board member Charlie Miller made a motion the book “remain in the AP classes and that this is an agenda item at our next curriculum meeting on Jan. 21, at which time we will look at the policy that is currently in place and make any revisions that we see fit.”
Board of education members John Thompson and Shirley Babson agreed, while Catherine Cooke and Bud Thorsen opposed the vote. Thorsen made the first of three motions Friday to uphold Superintendent Edward Pruden’s decision to keep the book on the curriculum, which failed 3 votes to 2 votes–removing the book from the curriculum for about 10 minutes before again voting on the issue.
It'll be interesting to see how/if they end up revising the standing policies & how they compare.Add a Comment
Good job on reporting both ACCURATELY and WITHOUT BIAS.
Man, I despise television news.
ANYWAY, as you may have gathered, Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian has been challenged again, and it looks like in this case, the children of the objecting parents were given a different assignment and—for now, anyway—the book won't be taught again during this school year.
The school board says the principal worked it out so that the students, whose parents didn't want them to appear on TV, can now read another book to finish their assignment. The board says this assignment for the other students is over and no other kids will be given this book during this school year. The parents are happy about that and the board says it always wants participation from parents.
But, who knows. Maybe the school is planning on revisiting the issue over the summer, on coming up with an official challenge process, and on coming up with a plan for parental permission & alternate reads for potentially problematic books?
I hope so.
More than anything else about the story, though, my issue is with the way that NBC Miami reported it. I mean, SCARE QUOTES MUCH? They're so obvious that you can HEAR THEM in the reporter's inflection. And the whole situation had already been resolved, so the only possible reason I can come up with for the A Current Affair*-style treatment of the story is that NBC Miami, like, wanted to whip its viewers up into a frothy frenzy of righteous fury?
I know that at this point, most people probably have no expectations in regards to the objectivity of television "journalists", but GOOD LORD IT IS OCCASIONALLY MADDENING.
*Known throughout my childhood as "The Triangle Show".Add a Comment
From John Green's Tumblr:
Earlier today I received an email from a high school English teacher in Strasburg, Colorado who plans to teach an elective Young Adult literature course. A group of parents created a petition to “cleanse” the book list, claiming that the majority of the books on the curriculum, “are profane, pornographic, violent, criminal, crass, crude, vile, and will result in the irreparable erosion of my students’ moral character.”
Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska have been targeted in particular, and the press attended the most recent school board meeting. The motion has been tabled for the next meeting at 7:00 pm on April 16th at Strasburg High School: 56729 e. Colorado Ave, Strasburg, CO 80136.
Click through for more info, as well as a full list of books on the proposed syllubus.Add a Comment
From the Idaho Statesman:
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Meridian trustees voted 2 to 1 to keep in place a hold on “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. The hold was put in place a few weeks ago after some parents objected to the book.
Board members rejected a recommendation from an earlier committee that said the book should stay on the 10th grade English supplemental reading list, with parental permission required for children to read it.
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Join EFF on April 4th for 404 Day, a nation-wide day of action to call attention to the long-standing problem of Internet censorship in public libraries and public schools. In collaboration with the MIT Center for Civic Media and the National Coalition Against Censorship, we are hosting a digital teach-in with some of the top researchers and librarians working to analyze and push back against the use of Internet filters on library computers.
This is why EFF is calling on librarians, students, and concerned library patrons across the country to take action on 404 Day to raise awareness and call attention to banned websites and Internet censorship in libraries. Please join us at 12:00pm PST/ 3:00pm EST for a digital teach-in featuring Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, Chris Peterson from MIT's Center for Civic Media and the National Coalition Against Censorship, and Sarah Houghton, blogger and Director of the San Rafael Public Library in Northern California for an in-depth discussion about banned websites in public schools and libraries.
From the Huffington Post:
Grown-ups tend to think their problems are bigger and more important than the trials kids experience, but guess what? They're not. We're all traveling through life together--and not only that, but every adult was once a child. Too many adults forget that, I think. Too many adults forget what it feels like to be that awkward middle schooler worrying about which table to sit at during lunch. They forget that dealing with changing bodies, ever-shifting friendships, and maybe-getting-divorced parents is hard. So hard. I write about all that stuff (and more), but I don't write with the goal of corrupting my readers. I write with the hope of handing my readers a mirror in which they can see themselves as well as a window through which they can see the pains and joys of others.
Relatedly: Her 2013 AMA at reddit.Add a Comment