Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Banned, Challenged, and Assigned Redux

Cyborg 2000 caught this little nugget in the Woodbury Bulletin. It seems that Natasha Fleischman has taken a courageous stand against book banning. For her next act, she will probably come out in favor of truth, justice, and the American way (which should have been the title of this post). Where to begin....

First, the facts. according to an unrelated story in USA Today, Fleishman is a part-time teacher in Lake Elmo. The opinion piece describes her as a "Children's Book Specialist at the Valley Bookseller in Stillwater." Fleischman complains that a group of parents is "protesting the use of explicit materials in our high school classrooms because our students are too impressionable to experience such literature." She goes on to ask the "fundamental question" whether students are mature enough to handle some of the harsher realities of life.

So far, so good. But it would be difficult to answer the "fundamental question" without seeing the book and knowing the age of the child. High school freshmen can be as young as 14. Which "harsher reality" is she talking about? War? Death? Divorce? Pregnancy? Serial killing? Fleischman's piece does not provide this basic information. Maybe this is because it would get in the way of her thesis that parents who complain are guilty of banning books.

That's right. Fleischman sets up the dispute as the ostriches who want to ban books against the realists who want to prepare students for the world. Apparently her own high school education neglected to teach nuance and logic.

As I have said before, it is different to assign a book as part of a curriculum than to shelve it in a library. Moreover, only the Library of Congress has every English-language book. Every other library must make choices about what books to obtain. People like Fleischman want to have their own input into the decision, while excluding parents and taxpayers who don't have a teaching license or a fancy title like Children's Book Specialist. That her bookstore even has such a job description demonstrates that every book is not appropriate for every age. Parents and taxpayers deserve to be part of this discussion.

Is that OK with you, Natasha Fleischman?


Blogger Marty said...

I still want to know what books are being discussed. Was that information hidden for a reason?

December 06, 2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger Cyborg2000 said...

I'd be curious if Natasha Fleischman supports the inclusion of the entire C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series in the school also..?

December 07, 2005 10:46 PM  

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