Public school superintendents in two Maryland counties recently removed works by acclaimed African-American authors from high school curricula. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was dropped for ninth graders in Anne Arundel County. Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is no longer an approved text in St. Mary’s County.
In both cases, the books drew criticism from small groups of parents claiming they are “trash” and “anti-white.” And in both cases, these factions superseded faculty recommendations to keep teaching the books.
Instead of allowing students to be exposed to as wide a variety of literature as possible, these parents would rather limit the education of not only their children – but all children in the county’s public schools.
In the past, books targeted for a ban of one sort or another have usually been those viewed as negatively portraying African Americans. This is one of few instances of “reverse banning.”
Education at its best exposes people to various viewpoints and perspectives. By dipping into literature, readers are exposed to powerful, thought-expanding language, characters and situations. These works challenge students to think.
It is troubling that a small group of simple-minded parents can influence the reading curriculum for an entire school district. Children go to school to learn new things. A tyranny of the minority should not be the sole deciding factor for the majority.