Monday, July 14, 2008

Censorship in America

So. You need to read this post by my friend, Celise. Then, check out the article she's talking about.

Go read. Now.

Did you read it?

Wow!

I just.can’t.believe that this stuff is still going on in our Country!

I mean, it was on the list of the twenty approved books. They were told, in writing, of her intent, their were permission slips signed by parents and still she gets fired over it! Wow! Sad.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ohhh sigh... I so disagree with you both.

*Teachers may not teach whatever they want in the classroom. The school district is responsible for deciding that. They have an obligation to protect our children from moral filth as much as possible. Freedom of speech happens when you're an adult. Do you let your children talk back to you or cuss you out? Do you teach them to say/believe in the values of Please & Thank You? The school board did not approve or purchase the books. They told her to hold off and they would decide. The teacher went ahead and purchased them. The staff/students who "approved" the books was not a part of the school district's decision making: it was a summer seminar & special committee for the award/list.

*The author of the article states "At-risk" is edu-code: poor, minority, chaotic home lives, likely to drop out. This is sensationalism and wrong. At-risk is the severe behavioral problems that teachers can't handle while trying to teach 30-40 other children at the same time. It is no fault of the teacher... you try it...

*Teachers need to teach children to respect, not "insubordinate authority." If they come home from school thinking they can "insubordinate" and do their own thing in my home, they will be home-schooled. Thinking for oneself and out of the box can happen without bucking the system and disrespecting society's rules. As parents we have rules our children do not understand, but we know why we make them because we were the originator. Maybe, this situation causes you, as it has me, to think about why the school board has to have certain literary/academic rules. Public education should not be a free for all anything goes place, that includes teachers and students.

*You are going to homeschool, so you will censor, select, choose everything your child reads... the school district is acting as an extension of the parent for the rest of those who send their children to school.

*Freedom of speech... in schools: is bullying okay then? would you like your child's class to have a presentation from a member of the KKK or Nazis party? is calling in a bomb threat okay? People seem to like to throw this beloved USA Right around, to me, it's like wearing the flag on your swimwear:)

*It's too bad the teacher didn't offer her student's parents, the ones who approved, to go get the book for themselves, on their own time, from the business who bought the books, and read it for themselves on Christmas break. But, not as a school thing. Because I do believe the book could have been valuable to them, but the school district should not make that decision.

*I believe that manners affect character. Speech and dress are part of that.

*I'll stop reading your blog... I just don't need to feel like I disagree with you so much and I don't want to make you feel bad... I do think it's great for you that you are homeschooling... and I think it's great that others are sending kids to public schools... I like it when families have the ability to choose what schooling is best for them:) S

Cricket said...

So that I may better understand your point of view on this matter can you please define for me what you mean by "moral filth?"

Do you consider any of the following morally filthy...
Little Red Riding Hood, The Grapes of Wrath, Shakepeare, Gone with the Wind, The American Heritage Dictionary (A DICTIONARY!!!), Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, A Light in the Attic...the list is endless.

All of these books have been or are currently banned in many schools and libraries across this country. These are all books that we grew up reading in school but are now considered filth!??! Why the change? I don't consider myself to be morally filthy or corrupt because I have read these great works. I commend my parents for doing a great job in instilling morals and values in me and I commend my teachers for sharing with me these great works and helping me to appreciate them for what they are so that I was able to form my own opinions of them. I did not feel compelled to carry wine to my grandmother because Little Red Riding Hood did nor did I feel compelled to cuss or kill because Shakespeare's many characters did.

*Teachers need to teach children to respect, not "insubordinate authority." - Based on this I can only assume you do not encourage the reading of the bible among your children or neighbors. Did Christ not challenge his followers to challenge authority and follow him and his father to the promised land? That book is filled to the brim with blood, violence, racism and more hatred than any other book I have read in my life. Would you choose to burn that on the pile of books like the Nazi's did?

Censorship is not about risking freedom of speech it is about risking the freedom of the right to choose. I like to have and make choices for myself, not be led by the minority. You have the choice to homeschool your children if you disapprove of what they are teaching in schools and I encourage you to exercise that right before you try to take away mine and others.

Anonymous said...

Okay... after thinking about it all day:) I retract the "I'll stop reading your blog" line. I love knowing what you are up to/who you are etc... I go back and forth on maybe I should just keep my mouth/or fingers shut, but I don't like not dialoging either. We are only truly ourselves when open.

Heather said...

I personally have always prefered "education" over "censorship" My Daughter who is about to start 1st grade at a charter school already understands this concept. She knows that there are words she may hear but should not repeat, movies that mommy owns she cannot watch, and actions that adults do that she shouldn't do. But, she also knows it is ok to ask "why".
The other thing is to group "behavioral problems the teacher can't handle" with 'At-risk" is at best nieve. Sometimes the child may be both, but I have personally seen some very affluent families have kids who are out of control, and kids who get free food vouchers and wear hand me down clothes that are at trying their best to succeed. Part of the problem with public schools is that the two seperate issues get grouped by the un-educated and the students and teachers are the ones who suffer.
While I feel that there is probably more to this story (every one has 3 sides!) I feel for the students who are truly the ones who lost out.

Anonymous said...

1) Moral filth: viewed as grossly indecent or obscene

2) I do not consider the books you listed as morally filthy... Half because I haven't read them I read the cliff notes:) Too hard for my small brain!

3) I don't burn books. Get a grip. The school district picks and chooses. Some things they choose to let parents/children read in their own home on their own time and not offer it in the limited classroom time.

4) "Censorship is not about risking freedom of speech it is about risking the freedom of the right to choose. I like to have and make choices for myself, not be led by the minority. You have the choice to homeschool your children if you disapprove of what they are teaching in schools and I encourage you to exercise that right before you try to take away mine and others." (Cricket's quote) There are many different points in here...

According to Webster: Censor: an official with the power to examine literature mail etc and remove or prohibit anything considered obscene or objectionable.

The right to choose is ultimately the school board's, who are voted in by the people... not the teacher.

I too like to choose for myself... I do not want to make any choices for you. I am not trying to take away any of your "rights". Good heavens... go read the books... I have no idea why you would even think I am trying to taking away your right to chose? Ultimately, the child chooses whether or not to follow the teachers curriculum, the teacher chooses whether or not to follow the direction of their principal, the principal chooses whether or not to follow the direction of the school board... and there is always an effect to those choices.

I am sure this one will make you really hot... I don't believe education is a "right". I believe it is a gift! And I am soooo lucky to live in the USA!

5)*Teachers need to teach children to respect, not "insubordinate authority." - Based on this I can only assume you do not encourage the reading of the bible among your children or neighbors. Did Christ not challenge his followers to challenge authority and follow him and his father to the promised land? That book is filled to the brim with blood, violence, racism and more hatred than any other book I have read in my life. Would you choose to burn that on the pile of books like the Nazi's did? (Cricket's quote)

Oh how funny... Why is that all you can assume? Naturally, we all have the excellent ability to "insubordinate authority." It is not something we need to be taught. Respect is not quite as natural. So, do you disagree that we should teach our children to respect authority? I am not talking about making mindless, thoughtless, drones. I am talking about plain old fashion manners. Christ did challenge his followers and challenge authority.... the promised land was Moses... Again... I don't burn books... I don't understand why you think I would... just because I believe the school district/board (again, in position by the parents) has the final say in what the children read! Teachers/parents/school board/principle are all a team in this decision making process. The school board/principle has the authority and responsibility to hire/fire teachers they choose.

SuzyQSparkles said...

Thank you for all your comments which include so many different views on this topic. They have definitely caused me to stop and think about it some more.

I am blessed to have friends / readers who are so well spoken! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas, while still maintaining dignity and eloquence.

Cricket said...

Without talking about this in person it is sometimes difficult to get across a certain point you are making because it can be read and translated using different emotion from the reader versus the writer. I am not trying to suggest YOU personally would burn books, I am only trying to show that this is what was done in the past as a means of censorship. To me, taking away these books because of a small group of people is much the same as burning them. You have cast a negative stigma on them by telling people you cannot read them because they contain certain words, acts or other such things that YOU personally do not approve of. It is not just happening in schools but also in libraries.

Also, when I say "YOU" I am not pointing to you specifically or personally but using it as a broad form. I have no interest in attacking you on a personal level because we are all entitled to our opinions and feelings.

Also, just to clarify, and I am sure this will shock you but I agree completely that education is a gift and not a right. All children should have this gift available to them and those that choose not to take it seriously should not be allowed to continue on until they do take it seriously. I am not a fan of "No Child Left Behind." That however is another argument all together! :c)

It was mentioned that "The school district picks and chooses. Some things they choose to let parents/children read in their own home on their own time and not offer it in the limited classroom time." - I do not have an issue with this point. What I have an issue with is the reasoning they use to ban certain books. It is not a matter of time in the classrooms it is a matter of personal taste that leads them to ban books. For example, Little Red Riding Hood was banned because she has wine in her basket that she is taking to Grandma. The Grapes of Wrath was banned for language. Shakespeare is banned for violence all the time. If they are banning for violence then I would propose that we ban sections on war in history class because of all of the violence and death it talks about. Of course I am being sarcastic/dramatic about this but I am just trying to make the point that it is not a time issue that gets books banned, it is a personal preference issue.

What has changed so dramatically in the past 30 years that suddenly makes books like Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Lord of the Flies, The Count of Monte Cristo, etc. suddenly so unacceptable to read in our schools?

As far as you taking away my right to choose...again, I am not saying you personally are doing it, but there are some who are trying to. There was a parent in Tempe, AZ who sued the school and in fact the case went all the way to the supreme court because she did not want her child or the other children in the school reading a certain book because she personally objected to the use of the "N" word. That is her choice but she also felt the need to push her personal feelings on everyone else when she sued to have it banned. The case was thrown out in the end because it was a matter of personal preference and not an issue that put others at risk. This is the problem I have with censorship. It is based on personal feelings more often than not and this is where I feel like my right to choose is at risk. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean I shouldn't have access to it.

Ultimately I guess I don't have a problem with the schools choosing to not let certain books become a part of the classroom because I still have the choice to let her read them on her own. I just have a problem with the reason behind most of the bans and with people like the lady mentioned above from Tempe trying to force her opinion on everyone just because she disagrees with it.

Lastly, I am a big believer in manners and stress it daily in life with my daughter. Manners should start at home by example and with reinforcement. It is not the schools job to teach a child manners, they should have learned them long before they got there. Along with manners is a respect for authority and law. This is also something children need to learn starting at home.

Based on the facts as I know them I personally disagree that this teacher should have been dismissed for what she did because she received the consent of the parents before introducing the material to the children. She followed the proper channels and they did not reciprocate the effort. Should she have made another attempt before she got permission slips signed? Probably. Is what she did so awful she should have been fired for it? No. However, like Heather said there are 3 sides to every story so without knowing the complete tale I cannot tell you what really happened or what I think should have happened as a result based on those facts.

I hope I have not offended you, and if I have I sincerely apologize as it was never my intent. This is just an issue I feel very strongly about because I really do believe in our right to choose for ourselves and censorship challenges that right (in my opinion).

Celise said...

It was definitely interesting to read the comments here. Thanks for mentioning the article.