Thursday, September 26, 2013

Free People Read Freely - Texas Edition

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has produced a report on attempted book banning by Texas school districts for the last seventeen years. Although attempted bans rose during the 2012-2013 school year, I am delighted to report that actual bans decreased. According to responses to an open records request, only ten books were banned in Texas schools during the 2012-2013 school year. One caveat: for some reason this report only covers 63% of the total school districts in Texas. And there are more than a thousand of them!

Pflugerville ISD led the way with the most challenges in the 2012-2013 school year, but retained all thirteen books at their schools. They held the line against multiple challenges to the Captain Underpants series by someone who apparently lacks any sense of humor whatsoever and defended the integrity of their AP programs. Clear Creak ISD took the lead in actual bans: two of the three books challenged were removed. The results of this report are below and include the reasons given for each challenge, which makes for some amusing reading. Sometimes I just want to shake somebody and holler "Get a grip!" In addition, some people seem to believe their kids are never nude.

Special mention for an outstanding job: Elkhart ISD and Bastrop ISD - Thank you for sticking to your guns in the interests of free speech.

Special mention for spineless pandering: Brazosport ISD  - way to cave on the Cave y'all!

Special mention for causing me a face-palmThe Ehrhart School - for banning The Princess Diaries

Special mention for being totally clueless - The parent who wouldn't let their kid read Of Mice and Men because they felt the story/plot was depressing

LIST OF BANNED BOOKS (books removed from library shelves or class reading lists):

Paintings from the Cave, Gary Paulsen
Talking in the Dark: A Poetry Memoir, Billy Merrell
Fade; Book 2 of Wake Trilogy, Lisa McMann
Ransom My Heart, Princess of Genovia, Mia Thermopolis
World War Z, Max Brooks
Smile of a Dolphin, Ed. Marc Bekoff
Amy and Roger Epic Detour, Morgan Matson
The Olympics: Smitty II, Bill Gutman
The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
Zombies vs. Unicorns, Holly Black

LIST OF RESTRICTED BOOKS (books restricted to readers based on age, reading level, parental permission, etc.):

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods, Rob Williams
Been To Yesterdays: Poems of a Life, Lee Hopkins
The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Blubber, Judy Blume
Hide and Seek, Ida Vos
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
Liar, Liar, Gary Paulsen
Deadtime Stories: Grave Secrets, Annette & Gina Cascone
Big Momma Makes the World, Phyllis Root
The Collector, John Fowles
The People Could Fly: The Picture Book, Virginia Hamilton
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
I Am J, Chris Beam
Say Cheese and Die, R.L. Stine
Draw Me A Star, Eric Carle

All Challenged Books (by school district):

Bartlett ISD
School: Bartlett High School
Book: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Reason Cited: Offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Bastrop ISD
School: Cedar Creek Middle School
Book: I Like Him, He Likes Her; Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reason Cited: Mention of lesbian marriage
Action Taken: Retained

Belton ISD
School: Sparta Elementary
Book: Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods, Rob Williams
Reason Cited: Profanity, other objectionable material
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: Book moved to middle school library

Brazosport ISD
School: A.P. Beutal Elementary School
Book: Paintings from the Cave, Gary Paulsen
Reason Cited: Profanity; sexual content or nudity; politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Banned

Clear Creek ISD
School: Gilmore Elementary
Book: Talking in the Dark: A Poetry Memoir, Billy Merrell
Reason Cited: Drugs or alcohol, mature content inappropriate for elementary
Action Taken: Banned
Note: Reviews recommended 9th grade+ and the book was reassigned to high school

School: Whitcomb
Book: Bionicle #8: Legends of Bara Magna, Greg Farshtey
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Restricted to the individual child by parent request

School: Seabrook Intermediate
Book: Fade: Book 2 of the Wake Trilogy, Lisa McMann
Reason Cited: Profanity, public speaking (public speaking? what?)
Action Taken: Banned
Note: Based on review (SLJ 9+), the whole trilogy was reassigned to high school

Comal ISD
School: Garden Ridge Elementary
Book: Draw Me A Star, Eric Carle
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Content changed or deleted (WHAT? By whom?)

School: Freiheit Elementary School
Book: Say Cheese and Die, R.L. Stine
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Use restricted

School: Timberwood Park Elementary
Book: The Ranger’s Apprentice, John Flanagan
Reason Cited: Profanity
Action Taken: Decision pending
Note: Parent did not follow through with her complaint specifying where the words “damn” and “hell” are located in the book (yep, you read that correctly)

The Ehrhart School
School: The Ehrhart School
Book: Ransom My Heart, Princess of Genovia Mia Thermopolis (Pardon me, but isn't this The Princess Diaries?!)
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Banned

Elkhart ISD
School: Elkhart High School
Book: A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, Tanya Lee Stone
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content or nudity, drugs or alcohol
Action Taken: Retained
Note: The review committee found that the book met educational need and community standards

Flour Bluff ISD
School: Flour Bluff Intermediate
Book: Video Content – “Remembering September 11th”
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Decision pending
Note: Informal request at principal/teacher level; individual voiced concerns through national television media; video currently still in database

Frankston ISD
School: Frankston High School
Book: World War Z, Max Brooks
Reason Cited: Profanity, violence or horror
Action Taken: Banned
Note: After reviewing this book, the librarian felt it was inappropriate for the high school library

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD
School: Grapevine High School
Book: I Am J, Chris Beam
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: Book title removed from summer reading list. Book remains in librarian’s office for check out as requested (not on shelves)

School: Colleyville Heritage High School
Book: To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)
Note: Student given an alternate assignment and worked in the library when class discussions were held

School: Colleyville Elementary School
Book: Bone (Series), Jeff Smith
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Did not meet district criteria for removal; parent given opportunity to mark child’s library record card to prevent check out

Hallsville ISD
School: North Elementary
Book: The People Could Fly: The Picture Book, Virginia Hamilton
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Use restricted

School: North Elementary
Book: Big Momma Makes the World, Phyllis Root
Reason Cited: Offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Use restricted

Harper ISD
School: Harper Elementary
Book: Deadtime Stories: Grave Secrets, Annette & Gina Cascone
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Use restricted

School: Harper Elementary
Book: Liar, Liar; Gary Paulsen
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Use restricted

School: Harper Middle School
Book: Anima 1, Natsumi Mukai
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Retained

School: Harper High School
Book: Smile of a Dolphin, Ed. Marc Bekoff
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Banned

Ira ISD
School: Ira High School
Book: Amy and Roger Epic Detour, Morgan Matson
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content or nudity, violence or horror, offensive to religious sensitivities, drugs or alcohol
Action Taken: Banned

Junction ISD
School: Junction High School
Book: Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Keller ISD
School: Friendship Elementary
Book: More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Retained

School: Whitley Road Elementary
Book: Bone: The Great Cow Race, Jeff Smith
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Retained

Kemp ISD
School: Kemp High School
Book: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)
Note: parent felt story/plot was depressing; student was provided with another book to read

La Porte ISD
School: Rizzuto Elementary; Lomax Elementary
Book: Hide and Seek, Ida Vos
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: The reconsideration committee voted to move the book to the junior high school libraries

Lake Dallas ISD
School: Lake Dallas Elementary
Book: Blubber, Judy Blume
Reason Cited: Profanity
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: 3rd grade parent challenged because of language; book was not in library, was in Guided Reading Room and now is marked for 5th grade only

School: Lake Dallas Elementary
Book: The Olympics: Smitty II, Bill Gutman
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Banned
Note: Book was moved to middle school

School: Lake Dallas Elementary
Book: The Strange Case of Origama Yoda, Tom Angelberger
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Page with “#?!!**” standing for cuss words (Damn that's stupid!)

Lamar CISD
School: Dickinson Elementary School
Book: The Bad Kitty Christmas, Nick Bruel
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Parent’s objection to the lesbian partners holding a child and that it is unsuitable for elementary school; the parent did not appeal the district’s decision

Liberty-Eylau ISD
School: Liberty Eylau High School
Book: Fade, Lisa McMann
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Banned

North East ISD
School: Driskoll Middle School
Book: The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
Reason Cited: Violence or horror, offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Banned
Note: Book only removed from this middle school

Paint Rock ISD
School: Paint Rock School (K-12)
Book: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: 1 person thought the book was too adult content for the younger students; review showed that no younger students had even checked it out only older kids. We had 1 copy then, now we have 2; popular book

Pegasus School of Liberal Arts and Sciences
School: Pegasus
Book: Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya
Reason Cited: Profanity, offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Challenge by teacher (!)

Pflugerville ISD
School: Wieland Elementary
Book: The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zoobie Nerds), Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Wieland Elementary
Book: Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers, Dav Pilkey
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Spelling errors, grammar errors, objectionable story lines/scenes, undesirable/unsafe behavior

School: Hendrickson High School
Book: The Collector, John Fowles
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content or nudity, violence or horror, offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)
Note: There are a number of alternate books that can be used at the AP level

School: Hendrickson High School
Book: The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Reason Cited: Profanity; politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)
Note: There are a number of alternate books that can be used at the AP level

School: Hendrickson High School
Book: The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
Reason Cited: Profanity, violence or horror
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Provide advanced disclaimer of potential offensive material and “opt out” policy

Randolph Field ISD
School: Randolph High School
Book: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Rapoport Academy Public School
School: Quinn Campus Middle School
Book: The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
Reason Cited: Offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Richardson ISD
School: All Richardson ISD High Schools
Book: Creation Myths—Mande, Wahungwe; Author Unknown
Reason Cited: Sexual content and nudity
Action Taken: Decision pending
Note: The District’s English Language Arts department will review the 8th grade curriculum over the summer to determine how to proceed

School: All Richardson ISD Elementary Schools
Book: Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life, Lee Hopkins
Reason Cited: Profanity; politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Use restricted, alternate book allowed (curriculum only)
Note: Elementary English department removed the book from the curriculum and set of poetry books in the classroom and will replace

Southwest ISD
School: Scobee Middle School
Book: The Book of Lists for Teens; Choron, Sandra, and Harry
Reason Cited: Sexual content and nudity
Action Taken: Retained

Texas College Preparatory Academies/Premier High School
School: Open-enrollment charter high schools operated under the above charters
Book: U.S. History teaching materials, Responsive Education Solutions
Reason Cited: (none given)
Action Taken: Decision pending
Note: References to religion; review committee will meet over the summer to review and revise as necessary to ensure compliance with state and federal law

UME Preparatory Academy
School: UME Preparatory Academy
Book: CSCOPE (curriculum framework), Various authors
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Retained
Note: Challenge was informal and did not result in any formal action (we continue to use CSCOPE materials)

Westlake Academy
School: Westlake Academy
Book: Zombies vs. Unicorns, Holly Black
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Banned


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