Banning books in schools (1 Viewer)

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    Optimus Prime

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    Excellent article I thought deserved its own thread
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    On the surface, it would appear that book censors and censored authors like myself can agree on one thing: Books are powerful.

    Particularly books for children and teens.

    Why else would people like me spend so much time and energy writing them?

    Why else would censors spend so much time and energy trying to keep them out of kids’ hands?

    In a country where the average adult is reading fewer and fewer books, it’s a surprise to find Americans arguing so much about them.

    In this election year, parents and politicians — so many politicians — are jumping into the fray to say how powerful books can be.

    Granted, politicians often make what I do sound like witchcraft, but I take this as a compliment.

    I’ll admit, one of my first thoughts about the current wildfire of attempted censorship was: How quaint.

    Conservatives seemed to be dusting off their playbook from 1958, when the only way our stories could get to kids was through schools and libraries.

    While both are still crucial sanctuaries for readers, they’re hardly the only options. Plenty of booksellers supply titles that are taken off school shelves.

    And words can be very widely shared free of charge on social media and the rest of the internet. If you take my book off a shelf, you keep it away from that shelf, but you hardly keep it away from readers.

    As censorship wars have raged in so many communities, damaging the lives of countless teachers, librarians, parents and children, it’s begun to feel less and less quaint.

    This is not your father’s book censorship…..

    Here’s something I never thought I’d be nostalgic for: sincere censors. When my first novel, “Boy Meets Boy,” was published in 2003, it was immediately the subject of many challenges, some of which kept the book from ever getting on a shelf in the first place.

    At the time, a challenge usually meant one parent trying to get a book pulled from a school or a library, going through a formal process.

    I often reminded myself to try to find some sympathy for these parents; yes, they were wrong, and their desire to control what other people in the community got to read was wrong — but more often than not, the challenge was coming from fear of a changing world, a genuine (if incorrect) belief that being gay would lead kids straight to ruination and hell, and/or the misbegotten notion that if all the books that challenged the (homophobic, racist) status quo went away, then the status quo would remain intact.

    It was, in some ways, as personal to them as it was to those of us on the other side of the challenge.

    And nine times out of 10, the book would remain on the shelf.

    It’s not like that now. What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books.

    We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war.

    The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country.

    Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned.

    Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate.

    The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books.

    They are using our books to scare people.

     
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    So, the primary argument for banning books is that it's to protect children from decadence and immorality, and a return to decency and morality.

    This argument echos from the past when someone said this in regards to books:
    No to decadence and moral corruption! Yes to decency and morality in family and state!

    Centuries before those words were spoken, these words were written to someone who was teaching people to read and write:
    After that we heard a thing that cannot be repeated without a feeling of shame—namely, that you are teaching grammar to some.

    The banning of any books for any reason is a tactic of oppressors with inhumane and deadly intentions.

    The banning of books is not about protecting anyone, it's about dividing, conquering and oppressing.
     
    ……Few people are aware, however, that book banning is a widespread and longstanding practice in US prisons. Carceral facilities scrutinize what books and magazines can be offered in their libraries, can be taught in their classes or can be mailed to people on the inside.

    In many states, the list of banned publications is long. The Florida department of corrections alone has 22,825 books banned from its libraries, according to an October 2023 report by the non-profit PEN America.

    The Texas department of corrections is second to Florida with 10,265 bans. The Kansas DOC has banned 7,669 books. Virginia DOC, 7,204.

    By comparison, in the first eight months of 2023, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom received reports of 1,915 attempts to remove books from public, school and academic libraries.

    “Even if you accept the premise that there are dangerous books out there, it strains credulity to suggest there are 10 times as many books that are dangerous for adults than there are books that are dangerous for children,” says Anthony Blankenship, an expert on prison policy at the Washington non-profit Civil Survival.

    “Florida is the worst when it comes to book banning, but every department of corrections is engaged in it. It’s something educators and incarcerated students have to deal with in every state,” he says.

    Particularly troubling, according to PEN America, is the arbitrary way book bans are decided upon by some prison authorities, and the lack of clarity about the qualifications of the people imposing these bans.

    In a statement, the organization noted that employment at correctional facilities requires only a GED or high school diploma, “which means staff empowered to censor books may have only basic literacy themselves”…….

     
    My wife is leading the charge in KATYISD, and the worm is turning. Two candidates against the rightwing take over of the school district just got the most votes ever in a schoolboard election here. My wife worked on both of their campaigns and was quoted (again) in the news. She's gearing up to go after the 4 MAGA board members who got elected in the last few years when they come up for re-election.

    She's leading the charge to take this district back from the looneys, and I couldn't be more proud.

    (This could have also gone in the LGBTQ+ thread, but I picked this one since it's schoolboard specific)

     
    A TX MAGA right wing talk show host ran for her local school board and won. She immersed herself in the school district’s curricula, looking for all the indoctrination she ran against.
    IMG_1402.jpeg
     
    A TX MAGA right wing talk show host ran for her local school board and won. She immersed herself in the school district’s curricula, looking for all the indoctrination she ran against.
    IMG_1402.jpeg
    Wow. So she was against something that she didn’t know anything about.
     
    A TX MAGA right wing talk show host ran for her local school board and won. She immersed herself in the school district’s curricula, looking for all the indoctrination she ran against.
    IMG_1402.jpeg
    I’m amazed this admission was made and wondering if whoever she was running against was saying that the school doesn’t have/teach any of this
     
    A TX MAGA right wing talk show host ran for her local school board and won. She immersed herself in the school district’s curricula, looking for all the indoctrination she ran against.
    IMG_1402.jpeg

    It's really important that she was honest that she didn't find anything, because a lot of people would just make stuff up if they found out they were mistaken about what was being taught.

    It seems she's operating in good faith and with an open mind. I'm grateful for that from her and have no ill will against her for being mistaken. All of us make mistakes and are misguided from time to time. What's important is what we choose to do when we realize we are mistaken or misguided. She seems to have chosen objectivity and honesty.
     
    I mean, I guess.

    Sure nice of her to read up on her job after she got it.

    Aren't you supposed to get educated for a job prior to getting it? I know I had to.

    I mean, if I went to my employer and said "all the stuff I said to get hired is not actually true. I know that now after reading my new hire packet," I am pretty sure they would not be moving forward with me after the 90 day period

    So yeah I will give her credit for admitting she was wrong but I won't forgive her for being ignorant,
     
    I mean, I guess.

    Sure nice of her to read up on her job after she got it.

    Aren't you supposed to get educated for a job prior to getting it? I know I had to.

    I mean, if I went to my employer and said "all the stuff I said to get hired is not actually true. I know that now after reading my new hire packet," I am pretty sure they would not be moving forward with me after the 90 day period

    So yeah I will give her credit for admitting she was wrong but I won't forgive her for being ignorant,

    The point is that when someone admits they made a mistake, accept their admission and work together instead of responding with animosity and ridicule.

    Unless more conflict and division is the goal. Personally, I'd like more peace and unity, but hey, maybe that's just me.
     
    The point is that when someone admits they made a mistake, accept their admission and work together instead of responding with animosity and ridicule.

    Unless more conflict and division is the goal. Personally, I'd like more peace and unity, but hey, maybe that's just me.
    Working together is an excellent idea. I have zero problem with that.

    That being said, her situation underscores a significant problem with our political economy. That problem is either a lack of critical thinking or an unwillingness to think critically. This is particularly important due to the ultimate goal of gaining power by utilizing “the other”. Dehumanization and demonization of those deemed opponents or enemies of some nebulous belief structure is extremely dangerous.

    Of course, you already know this. It is simply interesting in this particular case because the woman involved actually did utilize critical thinking while former friends turned on her precisely because she did so.
     
    The point is that when someone admits they made a mistake, accept their admission and work together instead of responding with animosity and ridicule.

    Unless more conflict and division is the goal. Personally, I'd like more peace and unity, but hey, maybe that's just me.
    She's an elected official, who ran on a platform of lies.

    "My bad!" Is great and all but the damage is done,

    Do you think she didn't spread said lies during her campaign?

    How many people do you think learned of these "problems" from her and her campaign?

    what is she doing now to re-educate the public?

    Is she holding forums to apologize and re-educate the public in the facts of reality?

    Is she spearheading a campaign to learn why there is a concerted effort to provide people running for school boards with misinformation ?

    Again, I applaud her admitting she was wrong. But it is a golf clap.
     
    Again, I applaud her admitting she was wrong.
    I'm not saying she should be applauded. There's a whole lot of other reactions besides applauding and scorning.

    A good old fashioned "I told you so" would be a more productive reaction than scorn.

    Some can't let go of having to portray her as the "enemy."
     
    The wave of book bans sweeping the US, typically reserved for works of fiction deemed controversial, has hit textbooks used in public schools, marking the next step in Republicans’ war on education.

    The board of trustees for the Cypress Fairbanks independent school district in Houston voted 6-1 earlier this month to redact certain chapters in science textbooks, including those about vaccines, human growth, diversity, and climate change.

    The motion to remove the chapters was made by the board’s vice-president Natalie Blasingame and almost unanimously supported.


    Blasingame, who has served on the board since 2021, did not give a specific explanation for the decision, but said the subjects go beyond what the state requires to teach and creates “a perception that humans are bad”.

    Last year, the Republican-controlled state board approved textbooks for the schools’ science curriculums, rejecting several books on climate, so the local school district’s censorship of these textbooks is even more restrictive.

    Education experts say the move could have far-reaching consequences, prompting similar decisions to omit information in other subjects, and public school districts across the country.

    The board’s decision drew the ire of local parents and education groups.

    Brian Henry, a local parent and founder of the non-partisan group Cypress Families for Public Schools, said he was concerned about the precedent this decision sets.

    “Will trustees at the local school board level be able to just delete chapters about civil rights because they just mentioned the history of same-sex marriage?” Henry, 37, said. “It’s really kind of alarming what this could mean for ideological influence and control over what is taught in schools.”


    Henry describes Cypress, a sprawling suburb of Houston with a population of nearly 200,000, as an increasingly diverse community with a loud minority of political extremists.

    “A lot of Republicans in the Cy-Fair area, who are very conservative but are pro public-education, are having to now grapple with the fact that [the] governor, state representatives – they’re really not pro public–education,” he said. “And so people are struggling with how to reconcile that, because they don’t want to vote for Democrats.”

    Henry added this “level of oversight, micromanagement and interference” is “scary.”…….

     
    I'm not saying she should be applauded. There's a whole lot of other reactions besides applauding and scorning.

    A good old fashioned "I told you so" would be a more productive reaction than scorn.

    Some can't let go of having to portray her as the "enemy."

    I think the reason that is because (I'm speculating) but I'm pretty sure she portrayed her opponent/incumbent as the enemy.

    A person who may have been in the previously little known and thankless task of school board member for years, all of a sudden under attack, called a groomer who carries filth and porn for kindergartners, divisive racist propaganda to teach kids to hate themselves and their own race, books that celebrate a hedonistic perverted lifestyle, and acceptance for people who live that lifestyle.

    If that's what happened what was life like for the opponent? Yelled at in the grocery store by people he/she has know for decades? Threatening late night phone calls? Various terrible things left on the front porch or mailbox?

    If the opponent had children in the school system while all this is going on what was school like for them?

    If that's the case (and again it's just my assumption) I get why so many aren't really receptive to a "Oops, my bad"
     
    A librarian in Louisiana – one of the first in the US to file a lawsuit for defamation against her detractors – is speaking out about the fight she’s been part of as censorship and books bans escalate around the country.

    Amanda Jones vividly remembers the time she received her first death threat. Hate, online bullying or photos sent to her house circling her face with red Biro like a target had been unsettling, but not uncommon. This was different.

    Jones lost 50 pounds, took medical leave from work and watched in disbelief as chunks of her hair started to fall out. Knowing something had to change in the spring of 2023, she filed a lawsuit and wrote her book.

    That Librarian: The Fight Against Book Banning in America is Jones’s debut memoir, which will be released later this summer. It tells the story of her fight against censorship in the small town she was raised in and of the rise in attacks on librarians and intellectual freedom across the US.


    “I cried a lot, then decided to fight back,” Jones said. “I hope librarians can read my book and feel like they’re not alone.”

    Jones’s story made international headlines when she became one of the first librarians in the US to file a lawsuit for defamation against those who launched personal attacks on her after she spoke out at a public library board meeting. In July of 2022, when book banning started affecting Livingston parish, where she lived and worked, Jones made a speech against literary censorship at her local public library board. A targeted attacks began shortly thereafter.

    “One man posted a picture of me online asking parents how they’d feel if I was giving their kids pornography,” Jones said. “Another made a meme saying I advocate teaching 11-year-olds about anal sex.”

    The two men behind these posts and attacks, Michael Lunsford and Ryan Thames, were the focus of the ensuing legal battle.

    “All I did was give a delicate speech on censorship,” she said. “They started posting pages from books I didn’t reference, hadn’t heard of. Awful things spread like wildfire about me around my community.”……….

     

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