Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Caged Bird


Maya Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" will remain part of the English curriculum at the Fond du Lac High School. It was interesting to see how many people weighed in with some kind of opinion on the book and whether it should be removed from the curriculum after a student's parents asked for its removal.

I've never read the book, but can sympathize with students who are assigned a book to read with little say about it. Having said that I'm now glad that I had no choice in the matter when I was in high school myself. "Lord of the Flies," "A Tale Of Two Cities," "A Seperate Peace," "Black Like Me," and "The Jungle" were just a couple of assigned books I can remember reading.

Each of them had an impact in their time and something to say. It's a rarity that a book raises so much controversy in the school district, but maybe that's a good thing. Then again people with opinions on whether the book should be removed from the curriculum e-mailed and called the district offices from all over the country and world. I know district officials frowned on using the word "censorship," but that's how a lot of people saw the issue. It's good to see an open mind was kept about the issue and it's been resolved. I do have a problem with one or two people trying to impose their values on a majority. However everyone in this country has a right to voice their opinion.

About eighty people turned out to speak during a meeting of the district's Reconsideration of Materials Committee. That may not seem like a lot, but it's twice as many as showed for any of the information sessions scheduled by the district during last spring's referendum and the meeting wasn't publicized, at least not to the extent those sessions were.

As the old saying goes there's no such thing as bad publicity. In talking with someone at work I mentioned I'd never read the book. He admitted to that too, but both of us are now considering adding it to our own personal reading lists to see what all the to do was about. I can only imagine a few middle schoolers that can hardly wait themselves. After all they've now heard about the book too!

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