Friday, September 24, 2010

Forbidden Friday

Tomorrow begins Banned Books Week, a time when we should all be aware of, and do our best to counteract threats to free speech and intellectual freedom, both past and present. We hope that these are mostly past because we like to believe that we live in better, more enlightened times. Unfortunately, this is not always true.

Today, the Texas Board of Education will vote on a resolution seeking to ban history books which have more content about Islam than about Christianity. Those who support the resolution cite an anti-Christian bias on the part of the writers. But I like Houston Federation of Teachers member Gayle Fallon's take on the issue: "History is what it is. It just happened."

NPR's Two-Way Blog suggests in a recent post on the subject that what Texas decides can affect the textbook publishing industry, and thereby affect the nation. That might be a little too conspiracy-theory for me. But I do think that any threat to limit access to knowledge is damaging to the students who are supposed to be learning and developing skills such as critical thought and analysis. I hope that the members of the Board keep the students in mind when making their decision. And I urge you all to celebrate your own intellectual freedom this week by reading a banned book.

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