From Publishing Perspectives:
[A] digital annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) “would hardly be a meeting of publishers,” said AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante, “if we didn’t address the First Amendment.
“As we all know, across the country, thousands of books are being questioned with a scrutiny that’s newly chilling,” she said, “from novels to math books. This is not to say that parents and communities don’t have a say in public education, as the law is clear that they do. But that roll has constitutional limits. It does not extend to capricious actions that cross the line and amount to censorship. In fact, the line is important.”
Indeed it is. And the association shines most brightly when it operates with such outspoken clarity in public policy and political channels to protect and promote the place of the book industry and its freedom to publish.
“In our filing, we highlighted the constitutional rights of minors to receive intellectual information as well as the deep flaws in the school district’s assertion that the banned books were obscene and therefore removable.”
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
PG suggests that Ms. Pallante needs a bit more understanding about public education and the constitution.
“This is not to say that parents and communities don’t have a say in public education, as the law is clear that they do.”
To PG’s sensitive ears, this statement sounds amazingly condescending. Public education is, by and large, funded by state and local taxes. To the best of PG’s knowledge, public school boards are elected in local elections by “parents and communities.”
Generally speaking, the public schools where most students are educated are determined by what geographical school district where the students reside. PG is aware that at least some states allow students in one school district to attend schools in a different district, usually, one adjoining the district where they reside. PG is not familiar with the state of vouchers across the United States but believes vouchers aren’t available to the large majority of children in public schools.
PG was raised in rural, sometimes very rural areas where getting to public school involved a school bus ride that lasted 20-30 minutes or more in some cases. Attending a more distant school would have required his parents to transport him there because public transportation was not available in any form. The only practical choice for his education was the local public school so even if “school choice” had existed, it would not have been practically exercisable.
Many states provide “educational vouchers” that allow families to fund attendance at private schools. Typically, private schools that accept vouchers (PG doesn’t think all do) receive an amount per student that is roughly equivalent to the money a public school would receive from local and state funds for a student’s education for a year.
Ultimately, educators receiving state and local funds for their salaries select textbooks for children to read in class, spending state and local funds to purchase those books. School principals and district superintendents are also paid from those funds.
PG suggests that parents have a right to pressure public school officials if they believe their tax money is being used to provide access to books they reasonably believe will cause harm to their children. When a large group of parents supports such objections, public school officials should realize that their concerns should be carefully considered and, in virtually every circumstance, be reflected in the school’s libraries and textbooks.
The Association of American Publishers is located in Washington, DC. Virtually all major trade publishers are located in New York City. PG suggests that these two cities, their inhabitants, and their values, priorities, and interests are quite different from the typical American and, in particular, typical American families with children who attend public school.
As PG has written previously, publishers of all sorts are controlled and managed by a group of people who are quite homogenous in their values and experiences and are atypical of American families with children who attend public school. These people ultimately control the content of traditionally-published books, school books, and a wide range of other media. He suggests that their values are also quite different from the typical American and, in particular, typical American families with children who attend public school.
If you would like to read the American Association of Publishers’ brief filed with the Federal District Court, it should be embedded below.