BPC Bulletin: A Wave of Censorship Hits U.S. Schools

News Reports and Commentary Selected by Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee.

 

Between January and September 2021, 24 legislatures across the United States introduced 54 separate bills intended to restrict teaching and training in K–12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions. The majority of these bills target discussions of race, racism, gender, and American history, banning a series of “prohibited” or “divisive” concepts for teachers and trainers operating in K–12 schools, public universities, and workplace settings. These bills appear designed to chill academic and educational discussions and impose government dictates on teaching and learning. In short: they are educational gag orders.

— PEN America, introduction to Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach (2021)

PEN AMERICA

Read the full report:

https://pen.org/report/educational-gag-orders/

REPORTAGE

Virginia

In Patch, Mark Hand reports:

https://patch.com/virginia/fallschurch/librarians-warn-threat-intellectual-freedom-va-schools

North Dakota

In The Christian Post, Michael Gryboski reports:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/north-dakota-bans-critical-race-theory-from-public-schools.html

Virginia and Kansas

The Washington Post (via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) reports:

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/nov/14/books-on-race-sexual-identities-taking-a-hit/?bingParse

South Carolina, Texas and Virginia

On National Public Radio, Deepa Shivaram reports:

https://www.wfae.org/united-states-world/2021-11-13/more-republican-leaders-try-to-ban-books-on-race-lgbtq-issues

Texas and Other States

In Publishers Weekly, Andrew Albanese reports:

Librarians, Educators Warn of 'Organized' Book Banning Efforts (publishersweekly.com)

COMMENTARY

In the New York Daily News, Jonathan Zimmerman comments:

https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-you-cant-fight-censorship-if-youre-doing-it-yourself-20211117-cabts6ihxff4hjxmeqsu5j4jje-story.html

In Spiked, Wendy Kaminer comments:

https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/11/16/critical-race-theory-must-not-be-censored/

In AskFlagler, which is published in Florida, Chris Gollon writes:
https://askflagler.com/a-full-breakdown-of-jill-woolbrights-efforts-to-remove-all-boys-arent-blue-from-school-libraries/

In Esquire, Charles P. Pierce comments:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/we-have-moved-swiftly-on-to-the-book-burning-portion-of-the-proceedings/ar-AAQzVe5

On The Mehdi Hasan Show, Mr. Hasan interviews Jonathan Friedman, PEN America’s director of free expression and education, and Andrea Kane, professor of educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH_DWidb5II

In The Mary Sue, Alyssa Shotwell writes:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/if-banning-wasn-e2-80-99t-enough-two-school-board-members-voice-support-for-literal-book-burnings/ar-AAQB9qa

PETITION

EveryLibrary, a U.S. organization that builds voter support for libraries, encourages people to sign its petition:

https://action.everylibrary.org/nationalaccess

A GLANCE BACKWARD

Political battles over what is taught and read in U.S. schools have occurred in the past. A noteworthy book and TV program help put these battles in context.

In At the Schoolhouse Gate, authors Gloria Pipkin and ReLeah Cossett Lent relate their efforts to preserve intellectual freedom in a U.S. public school in the 1980s. Heinemann published the book in 2002.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED462688

On Firing Line, William F. Buckley, Jr., interviews Mel Gabler, Norma Gabler and Pamela Bonnell about local control of school textbooks and other publications. The Public Broadcasting Service aired the episode in 1982.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZBop6_r_R4

 

The Book and Periodical Council was formed in 1975 as the Book and Periodical Development Council to provide a venue for members to discuss industry issues, address mutual concerns and undertake projects for the benefit of Canadian writing and publishing.

Share: