ClassCast Podcast

Ep.043 -- Tibbens -- Censorship, Banned Books Week, Antiracism, & Huckleberry Finn

October 02, 2020 Ryan Tibbens Season 2 Episode 43
ClassCast Podcast
Ep.043 -- Tibbens -- Censorship, Banned Books Week, Antiracism, & Huckleberry Finn
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ClassCast Podcast
Ep.043 -- Tibbens -- Censorship, Banned Books Week, Antiracism, & Huckleberry Finn
Oct 02, 2020 Season 2 Episode 43
Ryan Tibbens

ClassCast Podcast Ep.043 features host Ryan Tibbens discussing wide-reaching, intrusive, and imperfect policy changes in his school division that are resulting in suppression of teachers' First Amendment rights, paranoia among employees, book banning, censorship, and more. Banned Books Week 2020 runs from September 27 through October 3 and, ironically, included Tibbens' first personal run-in with book banning during his 15 year teaching career. The new policy not only infringes upon employees' first amendment rights in hopes of protecting the division's public image and efficiency, but it declares a universal ban on racial slurs "regardless of intent" as well.  That, of course, sounds great, but it results in a wide variety of high quality texts becoming unsafe -- or possibly banned -- for classroom use, rendering teachers' efforts to support national and local antiracist goals harder to achieve because teachers have fewer options for texts to inform and guide those discussions. In this episode, Tibbens addresses problematic aspects of the new policy, connects it to classroom realities, and defends The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Just Mercy, and more.

If you are serious about fighting racism and censorship while promoting critical thinking and intellectual freedom, this episode is not to be missed.

Don't forget to like, share, follow, subscribe, and leave a positive review wherever you get your podcasts!

~~ UPDATE: Since this episode was released, several leaders within the school system have reached out for clarification.  Contrary to initial comments, they say no specific books are being banned. They also  state that teachers have their full support and that some of the "diverse classroom library" books mentioned are either no longer included or are not present in elementary classrooms, as I mistakenly indicated.  Additionally, in part because of awareness and concerns raised by this podcast, the proposed Professional Conduct Policy has been sent back to committee for revision. Final language is still pending.  That being said, the clarifying comments also suggest a shift from what the ALA calls "direct censorship" (a formal ban by school leaders) to "indirect censorship" (an informal ban imposed by teachers/librarians on themselves in order to avoid conflicts or problems at work or in the community). At this point, the censorship concern seems to fall upon individual teachers, not leadership, because there is no formal ban or limitation on the texts.  School leadership has issued formal guidelines on how to handle books with racially offensive language, which includes "DO NOT use audio books or read passages with sensitive language or racial slurs aloud, nor should students read these passages aloud. Teachers may not read the passage and omit the offensive word or supply a substitute word. Language spoken aloud that is oppressive causes violence and trauma to students and provides tacit permission for students to use these terms outside of the classroom."  This guideline makes the texts addressed in this episode (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X) unusable for whole class and small group applications because the texts can't be read or discussed aloud. The broader concerns of this episode stand.

Support the show (http://paypal.me/TibbensEST)

Show Notes

ClassCast Podcast Ep.043 features host Ryan Tibbens discussing wide-reaching, intrusive, and imperfect policy changes in his school division that are resulting in suppression of teachers' First Amendment rights, paranoia among employees, book banning, censorship, and more. Banned Books Week 2020 runs from September 27 through October 3 and, ironically, included Tibbens' first personal run-in with book banning during his 15 year teaching career. The new policy not only infringes upon employees' first amendment rights in hopes of protecting the division's public image and efficiency, but it declares a universal ban on racial slurs "regardless of intent" as well.  That, of course, sounds great, but it results in a wide variety of high quality texts becoming unsafe -- or possibly banned -- for classroom use, rendering teachers' efforts to support national and local antiracist goals harder to achieve because teachers have fewer options for texts to inform and guide those discussions. In this episode, Tibbens addresses problematic aspects of the new policy, connects it to classroom realities, and defends The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Just Mercy, and more.

If you are serious about fighting racism and censorship while promoting critical thinking and intellectual freedom, this episode is not to be missed.

Don't forget to like, share, follow, subscribe, and leave a positive review wherever you get your podcasts!

~~ UPDATE: Since this episode was released, several leaders within the school system have reached out for clarification.  Contrary to initial comments, they say no specific books are being banned. They also  state that teachers have their full support and that some of the "diverse classroom library" books mentioned are either no longer included or are not present in elementary classrooms, as I mistakenly indicated.  Additionally, in part because of awareness and concerns raised by this podcast, the proposed Professional Conduct Policy has been sent back to committee for revision. Final language is still pending.  That being said, the clarifying comments also suggest a shift from what the ALA calls "direct censorship" (a formal ban by school leaders) to "indirect censorship" (an informal ban imposed by teachers/librarians on themselves in order to avoid conflicts or problems at work or in the community). At this point, the censorship concern seems to fall upon individual teachers, not leadership, because there is no formal ban or limitation on the texts.  School leadership has issued formal guidelines on how to handle books with racially offensive language, which includes "DO NOT use audio books or read passages with sensitive language or racial slurs aloud, nor should students read these passages aloud. Teachers may not read the passage and omit the offensive word or supply a substitute word. Language spoken aloud that is oppressive causes violence and trauma to students and provides tacit permission for students to use these terms outside of the classroom."  This guideline makes the texts addressed in this episode (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X) unusable for whole class and small group applications because the texts can't be read or discussed aloud. The broader concerns of this episode stand.

Support the show (http://paypal.me/TibbensEST)