The fight to ban books

This is the Education Briefing, a weekly update on the most important education news in the United States. Sign up here to receive this ...


This is the Education Briefing, a weekly update on the most important education news in the United States. Sign up here to receive this newsletter to your inbox.

Today we cover a community’s fight against the book ban and the success of the vaccine mandate for almost all public school employees.


The fight against critical race theory has reached the library, as some parents try to ban books that address certain ideas about race, as well as those that deal with sexual and LGBTQ issues.

In a recent example of York County, Pennsylvania, hundreds of students and teachers won a battle, at least temporarily, against banning a selection of books told from the point of view of gay, black and Latino children.

Here’s the story: In August 2020, a diversity committee created a listing hundreds of books, documentaries and articles, designed to help students and teachers fight racial and social unrest.

Some parents opposed it. They claimed that the equipment could be used to “brainwash” students or make white children feel guilty. So, in a little-noticed vote last November, the school board banned all items from the class room list.

At the start of this school year, many teachers were outraged. The students were too. They protested daily in front of the school, wrote letters to the local newspaper and read excerpts banned books on Instagram. Local and national media picked up the story.

After a few trips back and forth, on September 20, the council temporarily lifted the freeze. York’s ban was largely symbolic: none of the books listed had been removed from school libraries, and teachers who were already using them were unaffected.

Pennsylvania does not have a law banning critical race theory in schools, at least not yet. In states where Republican governors have signed legislation banning critical race theory, books are disappearing from the shelves.

In Texas, who has a ban, Katy School District deleted books about young black boys written by award-winning black author Jerry Craft.

The district also canceled an event with Craft, scheduled for this week, after parents claimed his books promote critical breed theory.

In Tennessee, a group called “Moms For Liberty” is trying to use this state ban To delete a book written from the perspective of Mexican Americans.

Resources and other news on censorship:

  • here is a smart story from the Times about history of the critical race theory.

  • Prosecutors can lay criminal charges against public librarians in Campbell County, Wyo., after community members said that some books on sex education or LGBTQ issues are obscene and not suitable for children.

  • Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginiathe largest district of, removed two books high school libraries after complaints that they had sexually explicit and “homoerotic” content.

  • And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that last week was Forbidden Book Week, a annual national event to inform about ongoing censorship efforts. PEN America compiled a list of recently contested titles.


Thousands of public school employees I had a blow in the week before the vaccine requirement in New York City goes into effect on Monday. The mandate applies to virtually all public school employees, and there is no testing option.

About 95% of all full-time school employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. This affects 99 percent of principals, 96 percent of teachers and 94 percent of other staff.

The shooting accelerated after the city announced the warrant at the end of August: since then, health workers have administered around 43,000 doses, including more than 18,000 since September 24. (About 150,000 people work in the country’s largest school system.)

As with all immunization mandates, New York has encountered resistance: About 8,000 unvaccinated people who work in the school system have been placed on unpaid leave, officials said Monday.

Some schools have had to bring in substitute teachers, but the city has worked quickly to deal with staff shortages. New York City has a reserve of approximately 9,000 substitute teachers and 5,000 other substitute paraprofessionals who are vaccinated.

“We have a lot of talented young people who are ready to take on these jobs,” said de Blasio.

Legal challenges have also failed or stalled.

A lawsuit, filed by a coalition of unions, was unsuccessful. A group of teachers have filed a separate legal warrant, asking for at least one temporary injunction. But judge Sonia Sotomayor denied their petition to the United States Supreme Court Friday, after two federal courts also dismissed the claim.

The tenure even increased immunization rates among members of District Council 37, a union that led the legal and political accusation against the warrant. (The union includes school meal aides, support staff and crossing guards.) A spokeswoman said 93 percent of its members had now received at least one dose, up from 68 percent last month.

Millions of students across the country are in trouble to meet grade-level literacy requirements, and a good story can help even the most timid reader get through.

We want to know more about a children’s book you love and why. Use this form to submit your suggestions. Thank you!

Going out, look this clever analysis of The Drift, on the flurry of political biographies less than imaginative for children. See you next week!

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Newsrust - US Top News: The fight to ban books
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