Alaskan School District Bans Important Literary Classics

From The Author’s Guild:

On April 29, the Authors Guild signed on to a letter with the National Coalition Against Censorship and four other organizations asking an Alaskan school district to reverse its decision to remove five renowned works from the district’s eleventh grade English reading list. The school district said that it removed these books because they “may contain controversial content.” This vague and overbroad reasoning is, as the National Coalition Against Censorship’s letter says, both “educationally misguided” and “legally questionable.”

Removing such 20th Century classics as The Great Gatsby and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from a high school reading list because someone may view them as “controversial” is not only censorship, it makes no pedagogical sense. Where better for young minds to read and assess controversial issues than in a classroom setting, where a teacher can explain and use them as educational tools? Vague words like “controversial” may also mask discrimination against certain religious, political, or even sexual viewpoints.

Decisions about what should be included in a curriculum should be left to trained educational professionals, and decisions to eliminate assigned texts should be based on clearly stated and non-discriminatory reasons. Removing books from school reading lists is an especially insidious type of censorship, one which deprives students of their First Amendment rights. 

Link to the rest at The Author’s Guild

PG wonders what happens if a school doesn’t have any trained educational professionals who are any good at their jobs.

Or Native American families in the school district believe a history book grossly misrepresents what actually happened to their ancestors?

That said, does anybody know what’s wrong with Gatsby?

2 thoughts on “Alaskan School District Bans Important Literary Classics”

    • When you go to that post, all five titles are links to where you can purchase the book on Amazon. Drilling down through another link in that article, some of them were required reading. If the school district is anything like all of those that I dealt with, they do not pay for the books, the student (or parents) are required to purchase them wherever they can find them (which was a real pain for me in the anteAmazon days…). There is nothing preventing their being purchased and read by the free choice of the student (or dicta of the parents).

      There is absolutely nothing here about “depriving students of their First Amendment rights.” (An obvious corollary to freedom of speech is the freedom to not listen – which, if the book is required, is a violation.)

      I would note that the books in question were attacked from both “sides” in the ideological war – Angelou’s for “anti-white messaging,” and Heller’s for “racial slurs, misogyny and racist attitudes, and violence of war and against women.”

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