UPDATE: The Katy Independent School District has reinstated the books.

The National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to the Katy Independent School District regarding a challenge to two books by Jerry Craft, New Kid, (a winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal), and Class Act. The challenge seeks to have the books permanently removed from school libraries because they purportedly promote Critical Race Theory.

News reports indicate that the District removed the books from school libraries pending the outcome of the District’s review, a policy NCAC opposes. We urge school districts to keep books on shelves (or in classrooms) until review processes are complete to avoid privileging the personal viewpoints of the complainants over students’ right to read and access information.

NCAC maintains that the District cannot remove Craft’s books, nor any books, on the basis that they endorse “Critical Race Theory”, because almost forty years ago, the Supreme Court held that that is impermissible:

We hold that local school boards may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to “prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.” Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 872 (1982)

Thus, the removal of books from public school libraries with the intent to suppress any political ideas, including Critical Race Theory, is a violation of the First Amendment.

Recent amendments to Texas law regarding the teaching of certain principles that are commonly associated with Critical Race Theory do not apply to school libraries and would be void pursuant to Pico even if they purported to do so.

NCAC’s letter was co-signed by the Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee, Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: