Great news from Northville, Michigan: the school district’s Board of Education voted last night to affirm a review committee’s recommendation to keep The Bluest Eye in its AP curriculum, while offering alternatives to students whose parents don’t want their 12th graders to engage with the renowned novel in a classroom setting.
NCAC’s Kids Right to Read Project lent some advice in advance of the meeting, encouraging the district to stand by sound educational principles and “endow students with the knowledge widely shared by their peers across the country, and to introduce them to the range of ideas that they will encounter in college and in life.” AP literature classes are, essentially, college-level. The College Board notes that the course “engages students in the close reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature to deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure.”
Tuesday’s board meeting brought a packed house of complainants and supporters of Toni Morrison’s debut novel. One parent decried the “porn” and glorification of pedophilia that she claimed were part of the book, while another screamed, “They’ll deal with the racism and all the crap in college. But let them be kids for a little while longer!”
Of the 30 public comments at the meeting, however, perhaps the most eloquent came from a student, who reminded the board that Morrison is part of the College Board’s list of recommended authors, for good reason:
“The purpose of AP literature as a class is to expand our understanding and enlarge our world, not make us more comfortable inside boxes of ignorance.”
We couldn’t have said it better. Maybe it’s time for those parents to listen.