Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Know-Nothing Lunacy

If you live in the Wilsona School District, CA it is time to either pack your bags and move or vote the rascals out. When I first read about their trustees decision to "remove" 23 books from school libraries I marveled that they had found the time to read all 23 titles. Of course they didn't and now they are amazed to find that they have banned bilingual versions of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Disney's Christmas Storybook. (LA Daily News-Antelope Valley) They also banned (let's stop using nice words like "removed" and call it what it is) part of a series about the 50 states called, Welcome to the USA California along with some fairy tales and some "princess" books.


Clifford. They banned Clifford? Poor Clifford!
These folks need to read more than the blurb on the jacket flap. When they use terms like "criminal mastermind" as justification for banning Artemis Fowl, I know the flap is the only part of that book they have glanced at.

Apparently the district does NOT have a selection policy and they are going to write one. Heaven knows what it will stipulate when deep thinkers like
Trustee Marlene Olivarez comment, "We want books to be things that children would be able to relate to in real life," which results in a ban on fantasy books such as Harry Potter.

One sane parent, Danielle Sweeney stated the blatantly obvious:
Of the Potter, Artemis Fowl and "princess" books, Sweeney said, "The fifth-graders, that's all they're into. They can't afford $30 books. They will lose interest in reading and lose interest in academics."

This really is so sad. Schools in Wilsona School District have just been sanctioned under the California's Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program "for failing to meet the standards of a voluntary program that gives struggling schools extra money but requires them to improve student achievement for at least two consecutive years."

Suggestion: Develop a sane selection policy and put some books on the library shelves that the kids want to read. That would be a start.


Liz B said...

I'm fortunate enough not to have to rely on a public or school library for my reading material or that of my niece & nephew; yes, we use libraries but if libraries let us down, financially, we have other options.

But what about those without other options?

The new article bothers me in even more. They dismissed a "bloc of books"? What does that even mean, since the titles seem to have nothing in common? All the books on page 4 out of 6?

And talk about misuse of guidelines. "Guidelines will be laid down on some books that some had concerns about"; "once guidelines are approved, the clifford & Disney books will be brought back for approval."

So guidelines are only for some books? And the books are prejudged? Theoretically, once guidelines are in place, the books should be brought back to be examined based on that and may or may not be approved.

As for writing guidelines explicity to keep out certain books (those books they had conerns about) ... that is chilling. It'll be the Keep It Out If It's HP / Artemis Fowl Guideline, with nothing, apparently, about professional reviews, literacy needs of the students, curriculum support, etc.

web said...

Clifford. Big. Red. He's so obviously an insidious introduction to communism!

Becky said...

Thanks for keeping up with this, Camille, and for letting us know.

I don't have high hopes for the new book selection "process" either...

Camille said...

This is truly a tragedy for the children and students and parents in this district. Their schools have been sanctioned and are going to have state trustees and intervention teams overseeing their operation. With so many other issues on their plate it is astounding to me that they have wasted their time in this pointless exercise which is so detrimental to the very "diverse and low-income" students they are hoping to help.

Liz--You are so right about having other financial options to get the books we want. Besides financial constraints, families face time constraints too. So many of my kids never visited the local public library or big chain or independant bookstores because there was not time (and it is not a priority for their parents.)

Parents are tired, weekends are filled with soccer games, grocery shopping, baseball, softball, Scouting and errand running.

In many many cases the school library was the only library my boys and girls had access to on a regular basis.