NCAC and other free speech organizations sent the below letter to the Highland Park Independent School District after a group of concerned parents "proposed, among other things, to require the school to identify 'potentially objectionable content' in literature and obtain parental consent for such material, and to require the school to rate educational materials using the labeling system developed by private entertainment companies for purposes of marketing movies and music to the general public."
The proposal follows controversy over the removal of two books over the summer and seven additional titles shortly after classes had begun. KRRP states that while they "do not question the good faith of parents who object to certain kinds of materials…it is clear that their main objective is for the public school curriculum to reflect their personal, moral and religious perspectives and preferences."
Executive Director of NCAC, Joan Bertin maintains that "The present proposal misconstrues both the legal rights of parents and the duties of public school officials." Our First Amendment right to freedom of expression will be nullified if parents are allowed to dictate educational material. Indeed, the school district will put students at a distinct disadvantage if it "fails to introduce them to the range of ideas that they will encounter in college and in life."
KRRP goes on to reiterate the concerns of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) regarding rating or "red-flagging" books: "…Letter ratings and "red-flagging" is a blatant form of censorship; the practice reduces complex literary works to a few isolated elements…", minimizing the educational value to students in the process. The co-signatories urge the School Board to "reject any proposal to restrict the curriculum of students to accommodate the views, values and preferences of some, and instead to rely on the professional judgment of educators."
For more information, read the press release.