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The subject of banning a book in public schools is almost always a heated discussion. Many believe students shouldn’t be able to read some books at school due to content, and others think every book has a right to be on the shelves. KSMU’s Adam Hammons has the latest on the controversy surrounding a book that has been banned by Stockton Public Schools.
During a Stockton school board meeting on April 15th of this year, members voted to ban “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part time Indian” from the library, and from being used in classes.
Since then, members of the community have voiced their concerns, and now board members are looking into their decision. Next Wednesday, the board will have a “special meeting” open for anybody to speak whether they are for or against the ban.
At that time, the Board will choose to repeal its decision, modify it, keep it, or wait for another meeting.
Stockton Principal John French expresses his confidence in the Board.
“I feel like we have a good group of people who are gonna try to do their best of what they feel is right. That may not agree. You can’t please everybody 100 percent of the time.”
“To see what all the uproar was about I came over to the Missouri State Meyer Library to look over the Absolutely True Diary of a Part time Indian. After flipping through a few of the pages I’ve seen a couple of passages that reference sexual content. Some parents don’t think that’s appropriate for high schoolers. Others say it’s part of appreciating literature.”
“We don’t have an across the board ban on anything. The way that it’s handled in Springfield, according to our policy, is that it’s a site based decision.”
That’s Robyn Hagerman, the director of information literacy for Springfield Public Schools. She went on to say that the book in question in Stockton is not banned in Springfield.
The book, however has seen controversy elsewhere. A simple Google search brings up scores of news stories about parents in other school districts across the country who also had concerns about the book.
Missouri State English Professor Jane Hoogerstraat is in support of the book being used in high school classrooms.
“The book in question by Sherman Alexie, is actually a wonderful novel about a Native American student who transfers to an all white school. And the novel itself has a very strong anti-bullying message. So I think it’s unfortunate that they banned the book.”
Hoogerstraat says many times when a book is banned, portions of it are taken out of context and distorted. She says that’s what probably happened in the Stockton case, too.
For now, members of the school and the town can only wait to voice their opinions next Wednesday. And as for Principal John French, he can only wait until this is all over.
“We’ve got a lot more important things to do than to be wasting as much time as has been wasted on this book.”
The Stockton Board meeting will be September 8th, in the Stockton High School Gymnasium at 7 pm.
For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.