Teaching Profession

Just in Time for Banned Books Week

By Anthony Rebora — September 30, 2009 1 min read
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After receiving complaints from parents about two books assigned to students, the Wyoming school district in Ohio has decided to implement a review system to evaluate all books (other than textbooks) on teachers’ reading lists, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Under the system, a panel made up of school staff will rate each book based on criteria ranging from subject-area relevance to how likely it is to generate controversy.

By reports, principals would be expected to reconsider the assignment of books that receive low scores.

The new policy came in response to complaints from two parents about a pair of books that had been assigned to high school students, The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Some teachers and parents have criticized the district for caving into “intellectual bullying” and essentially overriding teachers’ judgment in recommending books. They charge the district could be veering uncomfortably close to censorship.

“When a district puts a book on its ‘Not Welcome’ list, it’s censorship and banning,” said one parent.

However, Todd Levy, the school board president, stated that the district “will not shy away from controversial books when they have educational merit.” (Obvious follow-up question: Then why are you bothering to score books on whether or not they might be controversial?)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.