Salina Public Schools decided not to ban “Not All Boys Are Blue,” a novel that was recently challenged at a board meeting.
In accordance with Board policy, a Property Review Committee has been formed. They read the book and discussed the novel’s potential strengths and weaknesses as a work of literature.
After review, the committee decided that the book should remain in the library. In its report, the committee determined that district policy, procedures, and philosophy were followed in the selection of “Not All the Boys Are Blue”.
The committee acknowledged that the book’s passages describing sexual activity can be uncomfortable to read, but felt that they do not detract from the value of the book. Committee members noted that the themes of the book could be empowering for students. The book helps some students recognize that they are not alone.
George M. Johnson’s memoir “All Boys Aren’t Blue” was published in April 2020, and South High School and Central High School in Salina acquired it for their school libraries later that year.
Three formal complaints have been filed with South High School this year.
Continued:Why is the book “Not all boys are blue” contested in Salina high schools?
Reviews of “Not All Boys Are Blue”
“This book will address sexual assault (including sexual assault), loss of virginity, homophobia, racism, and anti-darkness,” Johnson wrote in her book’s author’s note. Johnson describes himself as black and queer. “I’m glad this writer felt comfortable enough to share his stories and experiences with so many people. However, I think he could have omitted the pornographically explicit content when he decided to have a target audience of 14-18 year olds,” wrote $305 Salina resident Jessica Henton in response to a request. Press. She is one of the three challengers.
As part of the USD 305 policy, South High School Principal Charles Kipp appointed the building-level review committee. Library media specialist Elizabeth Burke and teachers Collin Carlson and Kim Warren serve on the committee. The panel must consist of two individuals. They are Bob Baird and Jessica Allen.
March 4 was the deadline for Kipp to submit a written report of the committee’s decision to the challengers and the school district superintendent. The decision fell early.
If a challenger is unhappy with this decision, they have the right to appeal and a district-wide review committee will evaluate the book.
If the challenger is unhappy with the outcome of the second commission, they can appeal again and the matter will go to the Board of Education. He would review past reports, grant a hearing to the challenger, and render a decision.
Challenges from the book “Not all boys are blue”
Chad Farber also challenged “Not All Boys Are Blue” at South High School. This book and other school books and materials have sparked complaints in school districts across Kansas and beyond.
In Farber’s view, the virtual classes that took place during the COVID-19 shutdown alerted parents to the curriculum and lessons that were happening in the classroom.
“It made parents do research and become more involved in their children’s educational processes,” Farber wrote in response.
Parents want a say in school affairs
During a $453 school board meeting in Leavenworth in February, former school board member Danny Zeck read to the board a passage about masturbation from a book read aloud to a high school class.
There are many other books that would accomplish the district’s academic goals and “are not morally compromised,” Zeck said.
When Zeck continued to speak beyond his allotted time, the school board president stood up and left the table.
Henton agrees with Farber’s view that the pandemic has increased awareness in schools.
“Along with that, I feel like parents have been kicked out of schools for a while and the pandemic has only made that worse,” Henton wrote.
Henton would like the Salina District to make it easier for parents to view online the books their child has borrowed from the library. This transparency would help parents gain more confidence in the education system, she said.
Farber and his wife have one child who is homeschooled. Henton and her husband had two children enrolled in an elementary school in Salina to start the school year, but the board’s decision to continue mandatory masking led them to transfer the children to a private school.
Kansas lawmakers propose legislation regarding disputed materials
USD 305 adopted its process for reviewing disputed documents in 1982. It is unusual for complaints to be pursued beyond the initial stage of talking to the principal and the teacher or librarian.
Legislation pending in Topeka would establish the Parents’ Bill of Rights and the Academic Transparency Act. Among the many elements of the bill is a method for reporting books containing sexual material considered inappropriate for minors or with excessive profanity or violence or without serious literary, scientific, artistic or political value for a minor. , and designate it as material for which parental review is advised.
Salina USD did not comment on the bill in a hearing, but neighbor Smoky Valley USD 400 submitted written testimony against the bill.
“Most of the parental rights set out in the bill already exist under local district law and policy,” according to the statement from $400 School Board Chairman Chris Bauer.
Overall, the bill would remove local governance from school boards, increase district costs and “add stress to an already overstretched teaching force,” Bauer said.
State Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, is the chair of the K-12 Education Budget Committee and the primary proponent of the bill. It will be part of a mega bill or be handled separately in the legislature, she said.
Other bills on school transparency were introduced during this session.
Are there any other books parents might want to pull off the shelves?
At Leavenworth, Zeck read “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” at the Leavenworth School Board meeting. Sherman’s novel Alexie won the National Book Award.
The House on Mango Street” is this year’s Big Read selection in Wichita, chosen by a committee that included Wichita Public Library, Derby Public Library, Wichita Public Schools, CityArts, and K-State Research and Extension in the Sedgwick County. With money from the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest, the Wichita Public Library purchased 800 English and 50 Spanish copies. Some books will be given to Wichita North High School students, according to Sean Jones, communications specialist at the Wichita Public Library.
“Diary” and “Mango” are on a list of books that have caught Salina’s attention, but no complaint has been filed for any book other than “All Boys Aren’t Blue.”
“I am not aware of any future plans for any further review requests,” Farber wrote. He said some people are waiting to see the progress of transparency bills in the Legislative Assembly.
Stay on the shelves
Henton praised the “very professional and extremely respectful” behavior of Kipp and the librarian in response to the book challenge. She was appalled by strong, angry language coming from other people and aimed at the librarian.
Due to school district policy, “Not All Boys Are Blue” remained on school shelves throughout the review process, according to Jennifer Camien, director of public information for $305.