Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Book Stays, the Parents Stays Quiet...

Sometimes it's tough writing three posts a week, and other times it's not.  It's a tough thing.  I like those weeks when it's easy to come up with material, but that means there's stuff going on that I need to address, which is usually not a good thing.  And those times I can't find material are bad, but good because that means nothing crazy is going on that I've been able to find (not that it means there's nothing crazy going on at all.)  Today relates to the latter problem.  Besides the usual suspects (Huck Finn and Part-Time Indian) nothing too much has happened that I have gotten a hold of.

On that note, I don't like straying from my routine out of fear that I will forget to update the blog for weeks at a time, so I will put up a little something that I found today.  It's actually some good news, so that makes it a win-win in some ways.  Without further adieu, here we go:

In October of 2010, a parent in the Helena School District, MT, requested that the book be removed from the school curriculum.  A recent article on stated that
[Michele] Smith filed the request in October to remove the book which she feels has obscene, vulgar and pornographic language.
“Whatever purpose the author is attempting to accomplish is completely negated by the many objectionable parts scattered throughout this entire book,” she wrote in her request.
Smith argued that the book damages young people by perpetuating filth, and was one of a handful who testified in removing the book at the public hearing held in December. Dozens testified to keep the book and more than 100 people attended.
The review committee in charge of the challenge voted unanimously to keep the book in place as part of the school curriculum.  Smith was not happy about the decision, saying,
“I’m disappointed, but not surprised....  I decided not to appeal because it wouldn’t change anything. They seem pretty set with their decision and nothing more I could do or say would change that.”
The superintendent upheld the committee's recommendation.  The review was based on five points, and they are as follows:
First the resource option meets the mandated state standards for the integration of Indian Education for All. Second, board policy says a book will not be excluded because of race, nationality, political or religious values of the writer or of the material’s style and language. Third, board policy says books are chosen for value of interest and enlightenment of all students in the community. The committee wrote that the many students who testified spoke of the positive impact the book had on them. Fourth, the option for alternative curricular assignment was offered; and fifth, the book is highly recommended by recognized review authorities and received many national literary awards. 
Many times the outcome of these reviews are stated as either successful or unsuccessful, but not often are the full reasons outlined for the general public.  Whether a committee decides to keep or withdraw material, I think that publication of the reasoning should be mandatory so that people know on what criteria the books are being judged.

And that's the news for today.  Thanks, as always, for listening.

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