In an all too predictable pattern, the Crook County School near Bend, Oregon, has banned Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This, after a single parent read a few pages of the book out of context and then complained to the school board, skipping the required procedure that requires him to meet with the principal first:
“Crook County School Board Chairman Jeff Landaker said although Moss didn’t follow the proper procedure — because he went straight to the school board and skipped speaking with his son’s teacher and the high school principal — he agreed with Moss’ complaint. “Personally, as a father, I felt it was inappropriate,” Landaker said about the book.”
Personally, as a father, I disagree with a lot of things my children’s teacher do, but that doesn’t mean I should use my power to make knee-jerk decisions. When you join a government body, you represent everyone, and you must act with vision to look beyond your personal feelings as a parent or sibling or child. Most of all, you must follow your own procedures, which the Crook County board did not do.
Three cheers to Principal Jim Golden for voicing his displeasure with this act of censorship:
“I’ve been directed by the school board and the superintendent to pull the book, and I will comply with their directive,” Golden said. “But I respectfully disagree with what they are doing. It’s a slippery slope. … If you take one or two pages out of context, I mean ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is about two teenagers who are having a relationship. … It’s a dangerous precedent. … Part of what you are going to do is discuss ideas not proselytize kids. You want them to come to their own conclusion.”
Although he is forced to remove the book based on the established procedures. It’s too bad that the school board sees fit not to follow its own procedures, as well. How can those in charge of schools expect kids to follow rules when they don’t do it themselves?