NCAC asked Sungjoo Yoon and Chloe Bauer, recent students in the Burbank Unified School District, to tell us why they felt the District was wrong to remove five classic books from classrooms. Read NCAC’s original coverage here.
NCAC is disappointed in the District’s resolution to this matter and continues to advocate for the District to adopt stronger book review policies and to follow them when books are challenged. In addition, we are disappointed that students will not have the chance to be guided in the kinds of classroom discussions Sungjoo and Chloe describe from their time reading Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. As Sungjoo, now a 15-year-old high school sophomore, explains, “For every one incident of a student being immature or cruel, there is a classroom full of students learning and understanding a necessary history and having hard-hitting discussions of why we, as the future of our country, need to actively play a part in mitigating racial inequity.”
These reflections were written before the Superintendent’s statement of November 27, 2020, was published. They speak directly to the value these books provided, when taught with compassion and empathy, and to what is lost in their absence. They acknowledge that simply declaring that this decision is “not censorship” does not make it so. These essays also provide insight into how students in the District perceive the current situation in Burbank schools.
Sungjoo Yoon’s essay is below. Read Chloe Bauer’s essay here. Both were interviewed in this Los Angeles Times article. NCAC is grateful to Sungjoo and Chloe for sharing their voices with us. They are a credit to the Burbank Unified School District.