To the Editor:
The recent opinion essay “Don’t Worry About ‘Book Bans’” (Sept. 15, 2023) is part of the larger coordinated attack that ultra conservative think tanks are waging on public education and against a democratic society and government.
Book bans have never been reasonable, regardless of whether a book is returned to the library shelf after being reviewed. The use of semantics to diminish the harm that bans inflict will not distract from the real issue: Book bans are a rising form of censorship being used to silence the voices and experiences of communities that have experienced oppression already based on race, class, and gender.
Paired with ongoing efforts to restrict and censor curriculum, book bans are a common fear tactic and ploy used to sow division for political gain. These efforts to limit our intellectual freedom distract us from what should be our nation’s educational goals: to provide students with a quality public school education that is inclusive, equitable, and wholly representative; to prepare students for a career of their choice; and to foster an informed and engaged citizenry.
Currently, 30 percent of the more than 1,100 books banned in U.S. public schools are authored by writers of color and 26 percent by LGBTQ+ authors. More than 100 billsto further censor books have been introduced at the state - level nationwide.
Our stories and histories deserve to be told without censorship. We are stronger as a society because of our incredible diversity, and so are our schools. A shared, honest understanding of the past bridges the divides that political players are trying to widen. Arguments that attempt to placate the American public to simply accept book bans are a thinly veiled attempt to take away the inclusive and comprehensive education our students deserve. We can see through the political scheming and we are fighting back.
Senior Vice President of Leadership & Engagement
Institute for Educational Leadership
Partnership for the Future of Learning
A version of this article appeared in the October 11, 2023 edition of Education Week as No, Book Bans Are Never ‘Reasonable’