When local Jewish and other faith-based organizations learned of a Tennessee school board decision to ban “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, from being taught in its classrooms, they responded by organizing a nationwide Zoom interview with author Art Spiegelman. The webinar was offered free to the public and offered an opportunity to hear Art Spiegelman’s thoughts on the banning of his book along with his views on the increased number of book challenges nationwide.
New guiding principles from the College Board affirm that AP stands against censorship.
A Mississippi educator will have to wait to see if he will be rehired after he was fired for reading a children’s book called “I Need a New Butt!” by Dawn McMillan, to a group of second graders. Toby Price is fighting to regain his job as assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary in the Jackson suburb of Byram in Hinds County. The Hinds County School Board’s decision on Price’s employment is expected in about two months.
Academic freedom, for many instructors in higher education, is a key component of free speech – going beyond simply the freedom to speak on topics but to craft course content, curriculum, and assignments. The state dictating what theories, ideas, and concepts are permitted to be included in education is tantamount to government censorship.
“I think people fail to realize how much hate is really an issue.” Read this interview with Jordan Joubert, student at North Hunterdon High School, New Jersey, who is currently engaged in speaking at board meetings, creating student-run organizations, and serving as a youth advocate in the face of censorship.
Guest Post by David Sohn, Copyright and Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens (C&C). Ideally, students learn to access, move, re-share, and re-use creative content in all kinds of ways that are legal and ethical; they also know the rules of the road for producing their own creative works. Yet teaching copyright in a way that encourages and promotes free expression can be a significant challenge. Copyright is a complicated legal subject with significant gray areas. Teachers may feel ill-equipped to cover it with their students.
Educators need a set of copyright lessons that is easy to use and that gives plenty of attention to concepts such as fair use, the public domain, and Creative Commons: accessible materials that focus on what copyright enables and permits, not just what it prohibits.
A bill introduced to the New Hampshire State House earlier this year expands on prohibiting advocating for communism to include other doctrines, including theories “promoting a negative account or representation of the founding and history of the United States of America in New Hampshire public schools.” Teachers and organizations across the state are concerned about the bill’s implications on how history will be able to be discussed in the classroom.
“Every voice matters, even if you don’t think yours does.” Read this interview with Jude Gepp, sophomore at North Hunterdon High School, New Jersey, who is currently engaged in speaking at board meetings, sending emails to the board for creating more inclusive learning environments, and maintaining their own website to inform the community about the LGBTQ+ equality movement.
As coordinated censorship attempts spread across the country, understanding who and what these conservative organizations represent is an important piece toward preventing further threats to intellectual freedom in the U.S.
Five diverse titles were recently challenged in North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District, New Jersey. Read this interview with award-winning school librarian Martha Hickson to learn more about how she engaged in successful advocacy using community resources and students to help insure students’ intellectual freedom rights.