Books Remain Uncensored, For Better or Worse


Books are sometimes a source of controversy, but they are available to be enjoyed by everyone.

There are a lot of choices available for books to teach and read in the public school system. However, there are some that people feel shouldn’t be a choice. Many parents believe that their children should not be taught books with explicit language or sexual content. However, these people do not have as much power to stop teachers from teaching literature as they might like.

There are currently many books that are not on the list of approved selections of Guilford County, but it is relatively simple to add a book to this list. Take for instance, The Road by Cormac Mccarthy, which was recently approved to be taught as a summer reading book for Seniors.

“It was a very simple process getting a book approved,” English teacher Jennifer Doner said.

Doner was a strong advocate for getting the novel approved, citing student’s positive response to the novel, and its literary value. The novel was considered questionable for numerous grotesque and potentially disturbing scenes. However, the Media Technology Advisory Committee, or MTAC, agreed with Doner and other English teachers that the novel’s value outweighed the negatives, and it was approved to be taught.

“I was a little worried that [The Road] might not get through, because it has some questionable scenes in it, but it ended up being fine.” Doner said.

Sometimes however, parents do not agree with the decisions of the Parents, Teachers, Administrators, and Students that make up the MTACs at the school and district levels. Such was the case in 2012, when parent Lisa Reid of a student at Grimsley High School put together a petition of over 2,000 signatures to entice school board members¬† to, make sure that assignments, “do not denigrate anyone’s religion,” after being religiously offended by,¬†The Handmaid’s Tale, a book that was taught for over ten years at the time.

Northwest however, as managed to largely escape that problem.

“I’ve taught here for fourteen years, and we’ve never had an issue,” Doner said.

Students also can obtain many readings from the library, often without anyone knowing.

“I don’t keep any records of what you’ve checked out past what you have currently,” librarian Natalie Strange said. “That’s a legal protection.”

It is true that there is legislation on effect that prevents anyone from demanding that records be released on who has checked out which books from the library, allowing students to feel secure that they won’t be judged for their reading choices. There have been incidents as a result of the terrorism attacks of September 11, 2001 where the government has felt it necessary to use this information to investigate, but were unable to do so.

“The Department of Homeland Security came around and asked a librarian for a list of people who had checked out certain books, and they said no.” Strange said.

As such, the inability to regulate who reads what may be a cause of challenges to serious investigations, highlighting a potential necessity of some degree of censorship.

However, it is also important to be able to attain information in any way that that is desired, as people have a right to know and read what they want to, and should not be dissuaded from doing so because the masses don’t agree.

Teachers can rest assured that they are allowed to make choices that may be unpopular, which is necessary to promote intellectual freedom, an important component of a successful school dynamic. Even if it comes at the cost of comfort from time to time.