Pennsylvania students protest school district’s book ban
A Pennsylvania school board clashed with its students and parents over its “ban” on “anti-racist” books.
Last year, the all-white Central York School District board of directors banned 40 books, including I am Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, as well as documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro and multimedia resources. like the town hall of CNN Sesame Street on racism.
“This resource list has some bad ideas in some books that I sure don’t want in our district,” said Vickie Guth, the board treasurer.
Some parents backed the move, saying they feared the racial emphasis in the books would harm their children.
“I don’t want my daughter to grow up feeling guilty because she is white,” said a parent in Central York.
But the students were furious and protested the ban which they said disrupts their education and prevented them from learning inclusively.
“I don’t think a board that lacks diversity is the appropriate authority to determine what constitutes appropriate material to address race in this community,” agreed one parent.
This week, parents, students and school district board members who are 82 percent white had an online meeting to discuss the issue. But little progress was made, and the district refused to rescind the ban until they reviewed all of the media on the resource list.
Pennsylvania Students Protest White School District 82% Ban on Over 40 Books and Resources on Race Issues
The district refused to overturn the ban, even after students at Central York High School shared their disagreement during a series of protests
Last year, the all-white Central York School District board banned teachers from reading “I am Rosa Parks,” the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, and countless other books in their classrooms. The district has also banned documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro and multimedia resources like CNN’s Sesame Street Town Hall on racism.
All of the books and articles on the list were written by people of color or focus on race, but the board said the decision was based on the “content of the resources, not the author or the topic”.
This decision has left many teachers facing a daily battle, caught between their students and their employers.
“I have to, now, with this resource ban, think twice about whether or not I should use a quote from James Baldwin as an opening for my class,” teacher Ben Hodge told CNN.
They said they are running out of what they can and cannot teach and are constantly worried about receiving negative reactions from parents.
“This is advice that after hearing their students’ concerns about diversity in the neighborhood, hearing my struggle with race, being an American Indian and constantly feeling like you don’t belong. After all these conversations for weeks, they still pursued the book ban, ” said Edha Gupta, senior. CNN.
When asked if she thought the school board had read any of the books on the resource list, senior Christina Ellis replied that she didn’t believe it.
Students at Central York High School argue ban jeopardizes their chances of having an inclusive education and disrupts both educators and students
‘I want to hear it all. I don’t want everyone to worry about how we feel because no one cares about how BIPOC members in the community feel. ‘ Olivia Pituch said
“I don’t think a moral compass will allow you to ban books on equality and mutual love,” Ellis said.
“Why does an episode of Sesame Street threaten children’s education? If anything, this school board threatens education, ”she added.
Another student, Olivia Pituch, also told CNN that she didn’t want a “whitewashed” version of learning and that she wanted to hear about minority struggles.
‘I want to hear it all. I don’t want everyone to worry about how we feel because no one cares about how BIPOC members in the community feel. ‘ Pituch said.
The school board argued that the books are not banned and are simply “frozen” until they decide whether the content is appropriate or not.
But the ban has been going on for a year and students are pressuring the council to lift it.
The district has also banned documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro and multimedia resources like CNN’s Sesame Street Town Hall on racism.
All of the books and articles on the list were written by people of color or are about race, but the board said the decision was based on the “content of the resource, not the author or topic. “.
An identical measure was taken by a school district in Texas last August. The Leander Independent School District has banned nine books dealing with race, gender, LGBQT issues and mental health issues.
“It is disheartening to see a school district closing off avenues for learning and engagement beyond differences,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free speech and education at PEN America.
“The removal of these books not only harms the literary community as a whole, but it also helps to further minimize the issues that people of color and LGBTQ + people face.
“The district has an obligation to open the minds of students to the difficult issues facing these books, not to close them to diverse lived experiences.”
Parents in New York City are also fighting private schools and accusing them of “waking indoctrination.”
‘We want [school administrators] be afraid and know that we are not joking, ”a mother told the New York Postt.
The parents behind the movement have children who attend prestigious private schools such as Dalton, Spence, Horace Mann, Collegiate and Riverdale Country School.
In June, a Florida mother called critical race theory racist, dangerous, and claimed it would destroy America at a meeting of the state’s Board of Education.
Keisha King said: “Barely May 31, marking 100 years [since] the Tulsa riots, it is sad that we are even considering something like Critical Race Theory, where children will be separated by their skin color and considered permanently ‘oppressors’ or ‘downtrodden’ in 2021. “
Educators have constantly reminded parents that critical race theory is not on the curriculum of any school district in the country.
Even though Critical Race Theory is not taught anywhere in the country, it is banned in six states and a ban is underway in ten more.