Response from “Ask Former Trustees – Clear Creek ISD Chapter”: Joanna Baleson, Ken Baliker, Jennifer Broddle, Bob Davee, Glenn Freedman, Ann Hammond, Charlie Pond, Page Rander, Dee Scott, Win Weber

Book banning in schools - what is it?

Book banning is a form of censorship in which printed material is removed from a library, a curriculum or anywhere else because someone or some group objects to the book’s content or ideas. There are innumerable reasons why people might object to a particular book or other available information – from violence, obscenities and sex to moral, political, or religious objections to poor literary quality.

Is book banning widespread?

Yes, according to the First Amendment Encyclopedia, which calls book banning America’s most common form of censorship and which cites children’s books as being the most frequent target of the practice. They also note that the practice is on the rise.

How is a book banned?

There are two primary ways to ban a book. First, ‘objection-based’ banning, in cases that start with an objection being lodged with a library or school district about a particular work. 

Second, ‘anticipatory’ banning, in which a book is not purchased or read in schools because someone fears it might be objectionable to someone. School districts have policies and procedures to address the former, but the latter cases are much more difficult to detect or trace.

Is book banning constitutional?

In theory, the US Constitution protects free speech. But in practice, courts have ruled that ‘community standards’ can be used to determine if a book is not appropriate and/or violates a community’s norms of decency or safety. Obviously, what may be objectionable to one person may be perfectly fine to another; hence, the controversies.

What are some reasons why parents should be allowed to ban books from schools?

1. Parents have the right to determine what, when, and how their children are exposed to topics, ideas, and language in the books their children read.
2. Students should not be exposed to the worst of society, such as violence, drugs use, obscenities and other inappropriate topics.
3. Banning certain books actually teaches students about the importance of community values and reasonable limitations. Plus, offending books are typically readily available in other venues.
4. Addressing controversial topics is the parents’ responsibility.
5. Banning books can prevent violent and hateful acts, by limiting exposure to examples and models of irrationality and antisocial behavior.
6. Nothing whets a child’s curiosity like banning something.

What are some reasons why parents should not be allowed to ban books from schools?

1. While parents may have a right to determine what is in the best interests of their own child, they do not have the right to dictate what others read nor do they have the right to overturn the best considered judgments of professional educators and scholars.
2. Shielding students from reality may not be the best approach to preparing them for life and anathema to inspiring critical thinking.
3. Books open minds to other experiences, other points of view, and deeper understanding of other people; thus, they are a healthy means for students to learn, grow emotionally, and gain an understanding of the world around them.
4. Books can change lives. Banning them, especially classics, undermines our culture and one’s personal growth.
5. Book banning reflects a point-in-time and often personal perspective on a book’s or idea’s value; yet an education is about timeless understandings and perspective.
6. Nothing whets a child’s curiosity like banning something.

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