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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    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.”…….

    This sounds like the staging ground for the next evolutionists Vs. christians Monkey Trials 2.0.
     
    A book about book bans has been banned in a Florida school district.

    Ban This Book, a children’s book written by Alan Gratz, will no longer be available in the Indian River county school district since the school board voted to remove the book last month.

    Gratz’s book, which came out in 2017, follows fourth-grader Amy Anne Ollinger as she tries to check out her favorite book. Ollinger is told by the librarian she cannot, because it was banned after a classmate’s parent thought it was inappropriate.

    She then creates a secret banned-books library, entering into “an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read”, according to the book’s description on Gratz’s website.

    In a peculiar case of life imitating art, Jennifer Pippin, a parent in the coastal community, challenged the book.

    Pippin’s opposition is what prompted the school board to vote 3-2 in favor of removing it from shelves. The vote happened despite the district’s book-review committee vetting the work and deciding to keep it in schools.

    Indian River county school board members disagreed with how Gratz’s book referred to other works that had been taken out of school, and accused it of “teaching rebellion of school-board authority”, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

    Pippin is also the chair of the local Moms for Liberty chapter, a far-right organization that has been behind many of the book bans that have swept across the US in recent years.

    According to a 2023 PEN America report, 81% of school districts that banned books between July 2022 and June 2023 were within or adjoined a county with a local chapter of a group such as Moms for Liberty.

    Besides Pippin, two of the school board members who voted in favor of banning the book, Jacqueline Rosario and Gene Posca, had support from Moms for Liberty during their campaigns……

     

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