Our Voice: Prosser review committee make right decision in recommending against book ban

February 13, 2013 

We're impressed by the decisions made by a review committee examining the appropriateness of two books in the Prosser school libraries.

The challenges were brought by a social studies teacher who is concerned about a book that graphically depicts child abuse and another that includes a family with two fathers.

After a review, a committee of administrators, teachers, parents and a student recommended both books remain on the shelves. Both had existing age restrictions, which will remain in place. And, at any time, parents can restrict the books their kids check out from the libraries.

In short, checks and balances already were in place to ensure the highly regarded books, which deal with sometimes difficult subject matter, are responsibly handled. Both also deal with issues that children could be facing in their own lives, and could provide valuable lessons.

Rich Korb, the high school teacher who challenged the books, said "We have clouded our academic purpose for political agendas." He hung signs that said "This is the schoolhouse, not your house" and "Leave your personal issues in the hallway."

But Korb appears to have his own political agenda, saying, "We are experiencing a moral shift in America and the line between right and wrong has become very cloudy." He noted the sexual revolution of the 1970s as one of the examples.

In recommending the schools keep A Child Called It available for seventh- and eighth-graders, the committee noted the autobiography's strong language and disturbing details of a childhood filled with abuse. But they thought the lessons learned were valuable and the author's triumph over such trauma inspirational. One committee member said, "I would hold the hope that if one child could be helped by it, it's worth it."

We're glad the voice of one, in this case Korb, did not sway the committee from the use of the acclaimed book.

As one 17-year-old who read the book said, "Kids can handle a lot more than adults give us credit for."

The committee recommended the second book, The Popularity Papers, remain available to fifth graders. The book is about two girls who want to learn the secrets to popularity in middle school. One of them happens to have two fathers. The book is part of a series written in diary format.

Librarian Vivian Jennings said the book is highly regarded and the "challenges and problems these girls face are ones children face every day." The committee noted the book's humor and the way it helps girls at a tender age deal with the challenges of growing up.

"It hits the nail on the head for the tween years," said one elementary teacher.

It's ultimately up to the superintendent to accept or reject the committee's decisions within 30 days. If he accepts them, Korb could challenge, taking the matter to the school board.

A good cross-section of people reviewed his challenges and came to the decision that the books were of value and should remain in schools, with age restrictions in place. That seems much more reasonable than allowing one man's agenda to dictate policy. Let's hope the superintendent agrees.

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