Committees Will Review Suspended Books

In June, we brought you a story on parents upset about reading selections within HPISD. As fire continued in the debate, many parents and family members of HPISD students turned up to the school board meeting on Sept. 9 to put in their two cents.

Following that meeting, emails came pouring in to HPISD school board trustees, district superintendent Dawson Orr, and HPHS principal Walter Kelly requesting the removal of specific titles. As a result, seven books have been temporarily suspended from the classrooms as of last week, pending further review by committees made up of parents, teachers, and students. The books are:

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  2. The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler
  3. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  5. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  6. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
  7. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

All reading selections are reviewed by a committee during the vetting process. However, when titles are challenged, they must go through a more formal “reconsideration committee” review.

Specifically, three titles were scheduled for use during this school year: The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Glass Castle, and The Working Poor. A separate committee will be formed to review each of those titles.

“At this point, we are still gathering nominations,” said Orr, who added that many of those nominations are coming from HP parent-leadership groups.

“It’s going to take us a couple of weeks to pull together just the committee, provide them the information and orientation, and then give them time to do their work,” he said.

18 thoughts on “Committees Will Review Suspended Books

  • September 22, 2014 at 11:56 am
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    It [is] a pleasure to burn….

    Perhaps the HPISD should require FARENHEIT 451 for all students in the middle school and beyond, and then furnish the list of banned books to their students.

    If I wanted to live a district that banned books, I would have moved to some communist country.

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  • September 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm
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    I have always been very proud of my education at HPHS, specifically our English department which is why this saddens me. I love that HP is such a great community with very involved parents who want to protect their children, but this is not the way to do it. Knowledge about certain situations that they otherwise wouldn’t have will only help educate them and keep them safe. It is far more dangerous to send your kid out to the world oblivious to its ways than for a16 year old to read about a sex scene. I feel confident that all these parents wanting to suspend books are good parents, and they should trust that they’ve taught them well and that they are mature enough to handle “sensitive subjects.” Please trust your children and their teachers.

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  • September 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm
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    Really? I am surprised over the uproar this has created. The books are only being banned as required reading. The group who is questioning the content is not asking for the books to be banned from the school library.

    As a parent who is concerned about what my children are being exposed to this is great news!

    Thank you to all of the parents who have stood up for our children.

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  • September 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm
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    @Really? – Oh come off it. These are children and adults make the decisions on the reading list. Would you argue that because “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not on the list that we should all move to a communist country?

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  • September 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm
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    Back to the Dark Ages, eh?

    This book banning is a profound embarrassment to our community. In the saddest of ironies, one of the banned authors (Walls) is apparently scheduled as the keynote speaker for next semester’s HP Literary Festival! I hope she keeps the appointment, and shames the district for its puritanical nonsense. We’re better than this, people. Don’t let a few reactionary, histrionic parents bring us all down to their level.

    If we’re going to ban books with sex and violence, better get ready to turn over your Shakespeare and your Bibles. OF COURSE certain passages involving sex and so forth are going to sound creepy and awkward being read out loud by some middle aged parent to a bunch of other middle-aged parents in a meeting room. I mean, just image that scenario, as a test of literary value. Good grief.

    This is shameful, tiny-minded behavior. High-school kids already know about oral sex and abortions and homosexuality and alternatives to capitalism. And if they don’t, they darn sure need some sort of exposure to the concepts before they head off to college.

    What’s next, HP? Dancing? Do we all really need to watch Footloose again?

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  • September 22, 2014 at 9:34 pm
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    Really? They’re not burning them, they’re simply removing them from the reading list.
    Still in the library, still able to be read in school, parents are still able to let their kids read them. You know, parents, the ones who are responsible for raising their kids.
    Personally, I’m not a fan of restricting books. The world is out there, may as well be exposed to it, in all of its beauty and ugliness. But I also appreciate the concerned parents point of view.

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  • September 23, 2014 at 10:18 am
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    Soo many knee-jerk half thought reactions and postings here. No books are burned or banned, just removed from the classroom teachings. As XT stated, the world is both beautiful and ugly depending on where you look but why rush to expose children/young adults to everything the world entails? What is the point? Reading about these events is much different than experiencing them first hand. If parents are really concerned this is not being taught in the classes, why not have a class dedicated to these discussions or actually talk to your kids about it. You don’t need a book to talk about these subjects when the past years you already had alleged rape, underage drinking, and ammo left on school grounds at HP.

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  • September 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm
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    @Please, your argument makes me want this discussed in school even more. Our children are exposed to a lot of daily ugliness without seeing the bigger picture, and these books help give context to their experiences. Get on your kids’ Facebook pages and read their news feed. (This is different than seeing just their posts.) Not for the faint of heart.

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  • September 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm
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    this issue, like all morality issues, (drugs, abortion, sex) is not about the specific issue. Its about not allowing a VERY small group of religious individuals to impose their belief system on a PUBLIC school system. The majority do not want books banned so why are the small elite minority views being imposed on an entire society?

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  • September 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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    This is such an embarrassment to our community. Art in many forms has always been used to teach and introduce concepts to people through the medium without actually being exposed to them. Do these parents really think that removing these books from the curriculum is doing anyone any moral favor? If they don’t like it what the “curriculum experts” at HPHS teach then hit the Highway to Heaven. Go to a Christian school and GOOD LUCK having well-adjusted high school and college aged kids. UGH. I have written my LAST CHECK to Mad for Plaid. Let the book banners pick up the slack.

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  • September 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm
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    @Sarah Bennett. What am I missing?

    These books were approved by a committee that included parents. Parents had to sign a consent form for their child to read this book. Any student without that consent would be given an alternative assignment.

    So when Tavia Hunt discovered her daughter was reading Stein’s book, and assuming she hadn’t consented, then her daughter should have been given an alternative assignment. Instead, however, we have not just Hunt’s daughter but everyone in that class, and in every class studying the book, given alternative assignments, mid-stream, while English teachers have to scramble to make that change.

    Why didn’t the district just follow its existing procedures, at least for the books already being read and discussed, and then have their usual committee reconsider the books before next year? Or am I wrong about the existing procedures?

    I am missing something.

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  • Pingback:Highland Park High School and the far-reaching impact of banned books | Politically Inclined

  • September 24, 2014 at 11:33 am
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    Worried about books? The folks who spearheaded this need to take their kids iPhones, laptops, televisions, etc. away until they are 21 then! They have access to the whole wide world of inappropriate pictures and information … not to mention what their schoolmates are posting (texts and photos) on their news feeds, snapchats, twitter, etc. It’s actually kind of ridiculous and comical that this group thinks they are “protecting” our children.

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  • September 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm
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    WHO are these “concerned” parents that banned these books in the classroom? What are the reason(s)? Why were they not satisfied with an alternative selection for their children?
    And, here is one for you….are any of them in positions of administration or power within the district and/or Park Cities?

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  • September 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm
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    3 books about racial, ethnic, and religious minority perspectives
    + 2 books about poverty.

    And this is the list that Highland Park sees fit to ban? Bubble indeed. This looks terrible for the community.

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  • September 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm
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    Thank you, Dr. Orr, for changing your mind and deciding to follow HPISD’s official policy for challenged material.

    Thanks to the people who organized our voices to convince him to reconsider.

    Apologies to the HPHS English teachers for this ordeal.

    Reply

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