UPDATE: School Board unanimously voted on September 9 to put Alexie’s book back in classrooms…
Last spring, the West Ada School District voted to remove Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the 10th grade supplemental reading list after a parent complained about the content of the book. The school district is once again the focal point of First Amendment neglect by requesting a review of all books on supplemental reading lists for grades 6-12.
The review originated from the challenge to Absolutely True Diary, about which NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) sent a letter (below), and which is currently “on hold” while the review committee considers potential replacements. The novel, a largely autobiographical account of the author’s struggles as a young adult, is taught in high schools across the country because of its appeal to reluctant readers. KRRP asks the board to “take seriously the constitutional obligation not to exclude books ‘simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books…’” The letter reminds the Superintendent and Board of Trustees that “Every community is home to a diversity of opinions on moral and religious questions.” If this “form of viewpoint discrimination” is left unchecked, it will “leave public schools in shreds” and the list of possible books that appeal to young readers at a trifling number.
KRRP asks District Superintendent Clark and Members of the Board of Trustees to reinstate Absolutely True Diary to the 10th grade reading list and to retain all books on supplemental reading lists, as their literary value cannot be underscored by the beliefs of some individuals. The letter further explains the constitutional and educational reasons for retaining the books.
For more information, read the press release.