When schools in Texas ban books from school libraries, is it doing more harm than good?


Texas schools are once again making national headlines, this time after a decision by officials at Katy’s Independent School District to pull a book off its shelves and cancel an address with the author of the novel on claims that the content of the work promoted critical race theory and Marxism.

Award-winning author Jerry Craft’s “New Kid” is the latest work of fiction to be took into consideration by a Texas school district for potential ban. Based on Craft’s childhood, the graphic novel follows a seventh grader’s experience navigating life as a person of color in a predominantly white school.

Craft’s speech announcement started a petition against the author and her book which garnered 400 signatures, and Katy ISD pulled the “New Kid” from circulation to undergo a 10-day closed-door process to determine her ownership. It is this opaque procedure that San Antonio Middle School Librarian Carrie Damon opposes, calling the practice of banning books unfair, unnecessary and potentially limiting for thousands of young minds.

“Banning a book is never in my opinion justified,” Damon said in an emailed statement. “If a library or district has a strong collection development policy and a certified professional librarian is responsible for it, the ban should never be necessary.”

Damon was recently featured in a Libraries Transform Texas Podcast discuss Forbidden Book Week, an annual event organized by the American Library Association celebrate the freedom to read. She says that while parents have the right to monitor what their children read, the book ban denies other families the choice of what is right for their children.

“If anyone thinks that Mr. Craft’s books teach critical race theory, I think it reflects their unease more than any supposed critical race theory program,” she said. . “I have witnessed some of my students’ reactions to books. They feel entertained and engaged because their thoughts, feelings and experiences as college kids are validated.”

Critical race theory is often misunderstood, Damon says, adding that it was not taught in K-12 schools and has become a vague bogeyman for subjects dealing with racism.

In an emailed statement, Katy’s spokeswoman Laura Davis said the district would use the criteria outlined in Texas House Bill 3979 for his judgment on alleged elements of critical breed theory in “New Kid”. The law, which Governor Greg Abbott passed this year, prohibits school classes that could cause students to “experience discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of race. or the sex of the individual ”.

The graphic novel “New Kid” by critically acclaimed author Jerry Craft tells the story of Jordan Books, a seventh grader who moves to a new school where he happens to be one of the only students in color.

Ariana Garcia

Katy ISD already received backlash in 2017 for temporarily removing “The hate you give” by Angie Thomas of Libraries, a book about racism and police brutality. School district policy states that instructional materials should be “age appropriate” and “provide information that will prompt students and staff to examine their own attitudes and behaviors,” among other things. conditions.

Spring Branch ISD also this week banned Cathy G. Johnson’s children’s graphic novel “The Breakaways”, which features a transgender character, from all of its elementary school libraries after a committee ruled it was not. “not adapted to the age or to the destination educational use”, the Houston Chronicle reported. The Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas this week introduced stricter guidelines for textbooks and asked teachers to throw out books that “represent a singular and dominant narrative in a way … that can be considered offensive “, according to NBC News.

These restrictive measures, however, could have the opposite effect of their intended effect, according to Damon. The librarian argues that banning a book often makes it more desirable. She argues that the only real losers in school censorship are the students who seek to learn and grow.

“Students are the big losers in most cases, this one included, especially students who see themselves and their experiences reflected in the book,” Damon wrote. “Banning the book sends the message that their experiences are bad or unwanted. No one wants to feel invisible.”


About Stuart M. McFarland

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