Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What's Wrong With An Educational Read?

There are times I'm glad I have no children needing an education in the Coeur d'Alene schools. They wouldn't be getting a well rounded one.

Once again the controversy of allowable books for class room study has reared it's ugly head. Leading the way are a group of parents who feel educators don't have the insight into which books have a learnable point as they do. Why the school board caves into their wishes is beyond me.

The last time around I actually went to the library and checked out Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I would want my high schooler to read it. I would want every every young man and woman who lives in lily white northern Idaho to read it. They would get a glimpse what it was like growing up black in the South in the 40s. They weren't the days that gave us Barack and Michelle Obama to be sure. Though literature depicting their time should also be read. Why? Because the times that spawned Ms. Angelou gave us Ms. Angelou.

Another is "Snow Falling On Cedars". It reflects the anti-Japanese sentiment and prejudices following World War II. You wouldn't want your kids to know about that, now would you!

That parents want to instill values in their children is admirable. Shielding them from unpleasant truths is not. Sexual situations, violence and profanity that appears in books is a reflection of real life. Kids know it. Kids are involved in all of it! Especially kids of the age that would be reading these books in school. If the parents don't recognize this, they are more at fault than the educators choosing the books.

One concerned parent had this to say, "My concern is that an ad hoc committee, and a small group of vocal citizens were essentially able to remove four of those recommended novels from the the list." Kudos to you, sir!

Another parent, on the other side of the argument, had this to say, "I'm glad about this recommendation, but...I just want to be sure the other books are not being used for educational purposes..."

I see a huge disconnect here. What are the books to be used for other than educational purposes? Who wins here? A narrow minded group who feel their thinking is the only thinking that should be considered.

Who loses? The children and the community. It leads to a dictated mind set - narrow. Having lived here far too long, I find it the prevailing mind set. Why else would the school board endorse the process such as it is? Caving to special interests serves no one well.

In this day of Twitter and Facebook, blogging and everything else available on the Internet, these very same kids have access to everything the ad hoc committee is fighting. Someone has their head in the sand. It's not the youngsters. That leaves the school board and those who dictate to them.


Margie's Musings said...

I agree with you Mari. Any book that gives a life lesson to children needs to be read. I am amazed at the people who did not know (before PBS) that the Japanese were interred in American detention camps during World War II...even fourth generation Japanese lost everything they had worked hard for.

Such books are needed if the next generation doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Word Tosser said...

I read that list and I couldn't believe it... while I had not read
"Snow Falling On Cedars nor "I know why the caged bird sings, I was familiar with the subjects..and could not for the life of me figure out what they were banned.
And to ban Maya Angelou's just blows my mind. She is such a sweet mild woman.. what in heavens name in her book could she have said that horrified the person to ban it? You really have to wonder about the mental abilities of these people.

cconz said...

I'll never understand the caving in to special interests. I was reading that and shaking my head. "Oh the children" Protect the children. They need protecting from these crazy nutcases!