The day before school starts for nearly 35,000 students, the Keeler Independent School District announces a last-minute review of the dozens of books challenged in the previous school year, an email obtained by The Washington Post. While these disputes have already been resolved by book committees made up of parents, librarians, administrators and teachers, policies adopted by the new school board earlier this month have led to the recall of 41 publications, including classics such as “Toni Morrison.”blue eye. “
The board noted parents’ concerns about adult content, including depictions of sexual activities. But in November, a parent also voiced opposition to “any change” in the Bible in schools. A second challenge ensued in December, and while the council’s review initially determined that the Bible would remain at the site of its current library, it was also discovered in a sweep on Tuesday.
The deletion of an edit to Anne Frank’s memoir has sparked a backlash since it was announced. In a joint statement Wednesday, the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish Federation and the Greater Dallas County Jewish Federation and its Jewish Community Relations Board expressed disappointment over the decision and urged the school district to “return the book to the shelf.”
“It is imperative that we educate our children about the Holocaust in ways appropriate to their age, as outlined in the Texas State Standards for Holocaust Awareness,” the statement read. “At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, we must be especially vigilant so that nothing like the Holocaust happens again.”
a A spokesperson for the school district told The Post that “books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to libraries once they are confirmed to comply with the new policy.” in Facebook shareCo-Chair of the Board of Trustees, Charles Randcliffe, said the review was necessary to “protect children from sexually explicit content”.
But for Howes, whose four children were students in the district, the decision to pull the books off the shelves underscores how politics has infiltrated school boards — a trend that has prevailed across the United States.
“These are the people who want to bring political culture wars into our schools,” Howes told The Post. “We can fight those fights as we want anywhere else, but don’t bring them to my children’s schools.”
The book’s challenges are not new, but they have escalated frantically over the past year, as a growing movement on the right embraces them as a political talking point. April Report From PEN America, an organization that advocates for free speech, it found that 1,586 books were banned in 86 school districts from July 2021 to March 2022, affecting more than two million students. Texas – where legislator A . distributed Watchlist of 850 books Last year — a higher ranking than 25 other states had bans, with 713 book bans, according to the report.
At Keeler schools, the list of LGBTQ-challenged books includes “Fun House: A Family TragicomicPoetry books such as Ruby Kaurmilk and honeyand youth novels such as “Jesse Andrews”Me and Earl and the dying girland the throne of glass Sarah J. series. Diamonds. A lot focuses on gay or transgender characters. Everything has been reviewed by county writers’ committees – with some approved, removed, or Specific age restrictions.
In the spring, Howes—one of the fathers on the writers’ committee—is called in to analyze a complaint about Ari Vollman and David Polonsky. Adaptation From “Diary of a little girl. Based on the full version of Anne Frank magazine, it was praised New York Times book review “So attractive and effective that it’s easy to imagine they replace Diary in classrooms and among younger readers.” The novel illustrates the hope and despair that Frank felt during her time in hiding from the Nazis within a small appendix. But it also includes some of her references to female genitalia and a possible attraction to women. The parent who complained about the book did not show up for the book’s committee review, So it is not clear what this person objected to, Howes said.
The eight-person panel eventually voted to keep the book—but only in middle and high school libraries, where it was classified as a novel for young adults.
“We were so excited because we thought we saved this book and did our homework,” Howes said. “Then school board elections took place the following week and the dynamics of the school board shifted.”
Keeler is one of the 20 Education Directorates In Tarrant County, a politically divided region where Joe Biden lives just won it 1,826 votes in the 2020 presidential election. Howes said the election results sparked a push by conservatives to take over school boards in the county. Patriot Mobile Action, Christian Political Action Committee Based in Texas, Supported and funded campaigns From 11 school board candidates across the district, they all won. Three of them joined Keeler’s seven-person board of trustees in May.
One of their first steps was to revisit the area’s selection of books. on me August 8The new council adopted two policies approved by the state Ministry of Education related to: Obsession And the reconsidering of educational materials and library books.
During that August 8 meeting, some parents thanked the new administration for its urgent attempts to “remove sexually explicit pornography” — efforts, one mother said, that began last October, when the Twitter account was right-wing. Lips from TikTok Show that the school owns a copy of Maya Kobabe.”queer sex: a memoirwhich has been challenged in many areas.
Howes admitted that not every book is suitable for all children. But “calling them porn just shuts down the whole conversation because we’re not really the same,” she said.
“We can agree or disagree, but these are important and reasonable conversations that we need to have as parents,” Howes said.
“How can we suddenly be in a place where we can’t listen to each other or find some kind of compromise?” She added.
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