The ACLU of Wisconsin urges Prairie du Sac parents concerned about censorship and free expression to attend tonight’s school board meeting, or to express their support for the district’s parent-teacher review panel. The panel was formed in response to a controversy over the book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie, and they recommended keeping it in the school curriculum.
Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has opposed censorship in all its forms. From books and art to film, television, and the internet, Wisconsin has faced aggressive challenges from people who try to stifle growth or ideas they feel are different from what they want in the world. Within the past decade groups have attempted to ban plays in Waukesha, musicals and art exhibits in Milwaukee, Gay/Straight Alliances in West Bend and books across the state. Local politicians and small groups have frequently tried to meddle with education by imposing their views against those of parents, trained teachers, curriculum and instruction specialists and the American Library Association. A local politician in Marshfield even attempted to ban the Muppets! The politician didn’t want children to know that there were wars or hunger in the world.
As much as these efforts have been pushed back, it appears that a small group of parents in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin are currently threatening a school curriculum at Sauk Prairie High School. However, it’s not “Where’s Waldo” or “Harry Potter” this time. Those books were attacked elsewhere for allegedly promoting witchcraft instead. Sherman Alexie’s 2007 award-winning young adult book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” is under fire because several parents felt that the topics and language were not ones they wanted to address with their children. Alexie is one of our nation’s most celebrated authors and poets, and is no stranger to censorship or personal attacks. He frequently tackles tough issues of anti-Native racism, loneliness, and community pressures. Although a review panel of Sauk Prairie High School parents and teachers found that the book is appropriate and in line with educational standards, the group is still working against the title.
The review panel has given their recommendation to the superintendent, who is giving his decision at 7pm on Monday, May 8th, during the school board is meeting. If you live in the area, please familiarize yourself with the book and attend the meeting to show support for the continued exchange of ideas and education. Parents and schools have a responsibility to examine and educate on important topics, not buckle to the ideologies of an angry few.
Sauk Prairie School Board: http://www.saukprairieschools.org/district/Agendas-Minutes.cfm
Find out more about the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom: http://www.ala.org/offices/oif
Follow the story in the Sauk Pairie Eagle: http://www.wiscnews.com/saukprairieeagle/news/local/education/article_39604e9d-c042-5585-a260-5a68669acb0f.html