27 January 2010

There’s a Bear in the Woods?

I’m starting to lose my sense of outrage at parents trying to prevent other people’s children from reading certain books in school. The “challenges” are becoming so ridiculous that my dominant response is…entertained.

In a new school district in Riverside County, California (land of my birth), officials have decided that Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary will remain in fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms even though it offers a defintion of “oral sex.” But, the Los Angeles Times reports, students will have to take permission slips home, and parents who don’t want their children to look in that book can insist they use “alternative dictionaries.” Oh, that’ll work.

In Union, Oklahoma, a parent objected to a book spun off from the Arthur and Postcards from Buster TV shows in 2005, which depicts children making maple sugar with their moms in Vermont. Two of those moms are a couple. One of Education Secretary Margaret Stallings’s first acts in office was to take back a federal grant because of this episode, showing how hollow her boss’s claim to “compassionate conservatism” was. The Tulsa World brings news that the school board voted to keep that book in the library since:
  • The whole point of Postcards from Buster was to show how different people live.
  • The board was pretty sure some children going to Union schools might have two parents of the same sex as well.
From the McClatchey syndicate comes the story that the Texas State Board of Education removed the author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? from a curriculum as an example of an author who might be studied for his cultural contributions. The board had mixed him up with the author of Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation because they had the same name. What name is that? Bill Martin. Because, of course, there couldn’t be two Bill Martins writing wildly different books at the same time.

I can hardly wait to see how would-be censors top those.


beth said...

Texans are crazy. Although I'm not sure why Brown Bear is an essential part of a third grade curriculum. Still, my concerns don't have anything to do with the red scare of whatever animal is red. Probably the PANDA. Or maybe the bear is really a reference to RUSSIA.

J. L. Bell said...

I think Bill Martin, Jr., was in the Texas curriculum guidelines because he lived the last decade of his life in Texas. And a Texan’s contributions to culture are, almost by definition, larger than others’.

Gail Gauthier said...

It's hard to be outraged when you're laughing.