The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Book-banning Proposal Sparks Outrage at Council Rock School Board Meeting

Photo from Unsplash

Newtown, PA – Impassioned words were met with resounding bursts of applause when students, former students, parents, and members of the public in the Council Rock School District (CRSD) spoke against any change to policy 109 that would ban certain books from the school libraries and curriculum.

This divisive issue has seen parents clash the length and breadth of the country, and in the April 7 meeting students and parents spoke in unison against any proposal to ban any books within the school district.

It was a direct fight against suggested amendments to policy 109 and viewpoints aired during the CRSD Policy Committee meeting of March 14.

During that March 14 meeting a change was proposed to amend policy 109 so that rather than any objections to resource materials “being referred to the building principal,” “the Superintendent or designee shall develop administrative regulations that set procedures” for parents requesting their children’s exemption from some materials.

In addition, the Superintendent “would respond to complaints from the public regarding source materials.”

Bob Hickey, a Republican member of the School Board, and father of eight who all went through the CRSD schools’ system, did not hold back when he voiced his strong opinions during that meeting.

“I feel a lot of the material in our library is inappropriate for the grade level of the person who has access to it,” he said.

He suggested a ratings system like the movies and would prefer that the policy was reversed so that parents permit students to have access to certain books, rather than requesting exemption.

“A middle school child really has no business being able to access an R-rated book without parental permission as opposed to the opposite,” he said.

While Hickey had stated: “I would like to see major changes to what our kids are allowed to see in school” during that meeting, the parents and speakers at the April 7 meeting were vehemently opposed to any such ideas and changes to the policy.

Ann Marie Murray, a former teacher and resident of Upper Makefield, suggested that these book ban proposals were brought in by people like Texas lawmaker Matt Krauss, who had an 850-long-watchlist of proposed books to ban, “to disrupt small communities” and to make themselves known and “put their name on the map.”

“We are walking into a morass,” she said.

She challenged the Superintendent and Board that they would need to “start reading for 12 hours a day in order to cover the objections that may be thrown up by parents that certain books should not be tolerated.”

Ishawn Hardway of Newtown, a senior at Council Rock North, spoke about how he felt empowered to ask his teacher for an alternative assignment when “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” appeared on his assignment reading list.

“As a person of color, I’ve often felt both underrepresented and misrepresented in my education,” he said.

By choosing an alternative book and assignment because of that original one on the list, he was “able to engage in my education in a more meaningful and supportive learning experience.”

By banning certain books, he would have missed out on an opportunity to open up a whole new level of discourse.

According to officials at the American Library Association (ALA) book bans and challenges have reached levels not seen in decades.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said that in her “twenty years with ALA, I can’t recall a time when we had multiple challenges coming in on a daily basis.”

Most of the books being banned nationwide deal with race and sexuality.

Chris Kinsey, a parent in the district, was met with loud cheers and applause throughout when he spoke against the policy meeting of March 14, and any proposals to change policy 109.

“The creep of right-wing extremist politics into schools that we’ve been reading about in the news seems to be coming into our own community,” he said.

And he not only riled at “how this Board has been operating lately” regarding the book ban proposals, but took aim at something many in the district have queried: why was the former Superintendent Robert Fraser suddenly let go in an “amicable separation” after a medical leave of absence became a permanent departure in February of this year?

“We will not let our schools become petri-dishes for open racism, bullying, bigotry, or fascist ideology,” Kinsey concluded to large rounds of applause.

In other business, an important discussion centered around introducing a new special subject into the elementary schools: STEM.

Qualifications required by teachers; the importance of STEM subjects in schools and the workplace; and how this could possibly affect the teaching of other subjects during the school day were points all discussed around this proposed new special subject.