NCAC is joined by the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators in a follow-up letter sent to the Highland Park Independent School District in TX. In the letter, we urge the Board of Trustees to adopt policies and procedures that make it clear that curricular decisions would be based solely on educational grounds, not on the opinions and preferences of any individual or group.
The letter comes in response to the ongoing battle between parents regarding instructional materials. The fight erupted in early September after seven books were suspended from the district’s Recommended Outside Reading (ROR) list following a chorus of parental complaints. (Earlier in the summer, two books, Nineteen Minutes and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, were also removed.) Today’s letter follows a similar letter sent to the school district last month regarding proposals to remove or red-flag instructional materials.
“As events of the recent past clearly demonstrate, the attempt to accommodate the demands of one set of parents will merely anger or alienate others,” the Coalition argues. “Parents disagree, often vigorously, on matters of educational policy, which is why it is imperative that decisions be based solely on sound educational grounds.”
This new letter warns against acceding to parental demands to judge educational materials according to vague notions of “decency” or “community standards”. It goes on to point out that the Board’s own policies dictate that parents have a right to complain, but not to control instructional materials. Further, these policies also note that a parent’s ability to control the instructional materials in schools only extends to his or her own children.
The signatories hope that the school board will ground their decisions in a “principled approach” that favors educational values over individual or group preferences. Such an approach, the signatories claim, will diffuse tensions between parents in the long run and will let the district focus on its main mission: providing the best possible education for its students.