The entire world of news writers seems to think the Mat-Su School District Board has banned five famous books.
School board members have heard from as far away as New York City about the wrongheadedness of their actions. Of course, they only removed the books from the instructed curriculum, not the school libraries. News organizations as far away as London and as close as the Mat-Su have written about the vote taken on April 22 to exclude books from the high school English curriculum.
Tonight, the board will take up an agenda item placed by two school board members who didn’t favor the removal of the books. Board members Sarah Welton and Kelsey Trimmer want to take public testimony on the following books, and the reasons they are no longer part of taught material:
- “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings” – sexually explicit material, racist messaging.
- “Catch-22” – racial slurs, scenes of violence against women.
- “The Invisible Man” – language, rape and incest.
- “The Things They Carried” — profanity and sexual references.
- “The Great Gatsby” — language and sexual references.
In accordance with Board policy and Administrative Regulation 6144, controversial issues may continue to be discussed and addressed in the classroom under certain conditions, says Board Chairman Tom Bergey.
“It is the Superintendent or designee (usually the school principal), who has “the authority to judge whether the [those] conditions are being met,” Bergey said.
The regulation provides the Superintendent or designee authority to approve books not listed on a recommended reading list. Board action on April 22 did not alter this authority, he said.
“The School Board did not ban the books, did not preclude their use by teachers, and did not remove the books from school libraries,” Bergey said.
The meeting will take place telephonically and the public is invited to attend. The school board’s meeting starts at 6 pm. The agenda and links to the livestream can be found at this link.