NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) and its allies sent a letter to Glen Ellyn District 41 school board members today, urging them to reverse the district’s ban on Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Simon & Schuster) in middle school classroom libraries. The board is set to reconsider the ban at a June 10 meeting.
The letter cautions board members that its support for the judgement of the district’s professional educators is “essential to protect the integrity of the educational program, as failure to do so would send the message that teachers select challenging material for students at their own risk.” Regarding the district’s First Amendment responsibilities in this matter, KRRP advises that “officials have much wider discretion to include material that has pedagogical value than to exclude it.”
Perks was effectively banned on April 29 by the outgoing Glen Ellyn school board in a 4-2 vote that rejected the recommendation of an ad hoc book evaluation committee composed of teachers, a principal and a librarian. They found that the book was both valuable and appropriate for 8th grade students.
Following the ban, dozens of teachers, students, parents and community members have voiced their support for the book, many of whom have said the text changed their life. Almost 700 people, many of whom are residents of Glen Ellyn, signed a petition on Change.org to restore access.
This latest book ban is just one in a series of KRRP cases in the Chicago area. It follows the removal of Persepolis from classrooms, as well as challenges to We All Have Different Families in Aurora, IL and Monster in Oak Park.