NCAC Censorship News Issue #65:
OF MICE AND MEN “Inappropriate” in Illinois
Another attempt to keep
students from reading books selected by their teacher has happened in Peru, Illinois
where eighth-grade teacher, Dan Brooks, has been told to stop teaching Steinbeck’s
Of Mice and Men. After 13 years of using the book, Brooks was told it was “inappropriate”
following three anonymous complaints to the principal.
A perennial favorite of
the censors, Steinbeck wrote compassionately about the lives of migrant workers.
Peru School Superintendent John Jacobson described Of Mice and Men as a
“quality piece of literature” while permitting its restriction.
NCAC wrote the Superintendent
and School Board members:
“It is appalling that some
educators would restrict a book because unnamed critics would find offensive elements
in the work of one of America’s most important authors writing about the humanity
of itinerant laborers. The reaction of the Peru administration to such complaints
does a deep disservice to the students in your schools. The losers are your students
who depend upon teachers (who are in the best position to choose) to decide which
books will encourage their intellectual growth and their love of reading at a
particular stage of learning.”
NCAC also pointed out that
the absence of clear policies for selection of materials and for responding to
challenges leaves teachers, students and administrators vulnerable to whimsical
censorship assaults. NCAC offered to assist in developing policies.