Five Tips for Preventing Censorship Issues in Education
Once upon a time in America’s schools, librarians, teachers, and the curriculum coordinator decided which books would be used in classrooms and school libraries. Things have changed. Parents and other interest groups are now seeking to have a say in what students are taught and what materials are used to instruct them. This is not something to be feared, because it is a sure sign that parents and the community are becoming more involved with the education of their youth. As a consequence, you will have to deal with censorship issues from time to time, but “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here are several things you can do to prevent censorship issues from arising in your classroom:
1. Choose your books carefully. Make sure they align with the curriculum that is in place. Also, make sure you can justify their use by explaining why they are necessary and how they will boost student achievement.
2. If a book has caused concern and controversy in the past, save yourself a lot of headache and find an alternative text. Why pick a fight when there is a better way to approach the issue?
3. Be open to and prepared to answer any questions concerning censorship that you may receive, no matter how trivial and absurd they may seem. Make sure that you have introduced yourself to all of your parents and informed them that they can call you with any questions they may have. This can lessen complications, because instead of calling the administration with concerns, they will call you. This way you can dispel any misconceptions without involving the higher-ups.
4. Make sure you talk about the controversial issues from books with your students. Discuss how sections that may seem inappropriate were necessary for the author to get their point across.
5. Always follow your district’s policy on censorship. It’s one thing to take a stand for something that you believe in, but quite another to rebel against the administration and lose your job.
Censorship is a touchy subject in American schools. Various groups have their own views on the matter, but at the end of the day, it’s a necessary evil. The best way to deal with issues of censorship is to prevent them from happening in the first place. With the tips outlined here, you’ll be able to recognize possible issues before they arise and save yourself plenty of grief.