Banned Books Causing Controversy In George County - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/08/03

Banned Books Causing Controversy In George County

George County school board members are banning what teachers and administrators let children read. Three books: "Of Mice and Men," "Fallen Angels," and "The Things They Carried," have already been taken out of the curriculum and off library shelves. The administration and teachers fought to keep the novels, but the board felt that profanity is enough for censure.

"We don't want to make Vietnam mistakes again, and to make an informed society we have to start with informing students," George County High School teacher Stephanie Roberts said.

Roberts and her colleagues chose the books 'Fallen Angles' and 'The Things They Carried,' to give college prep students a straightforward look at the Vietnam War.

"We're sitting ready to go to war right now in our country the kids who are 16, 17 now, are 18 and 19 tomorrow," Roberts said.

George County School Board members voted unanimously to ban these books. One board members says there are two other books, without profanity, that the school is using to educate the students about Vietnam.

"I don't think we took anything as far as educational value away from the children... We have a policy here at the school that prohibits profanity, matter of fact, a question was asked in the school board meeting, if we read one of these passages out load would it be appropriate," school board member Larry McDonald said.

When selecting books, teachers have a nearly endless choice, but they said they chose the books for a reason.

"When reviewing materials of what texts to read, there were so many, and a lot of them contain some heavy duty language, but this is the language of war," Roberts said.

"I went to the school board meeting representing the school and why we felt the books should be kept, and it was the will of the board to not use the books anymore, and they did what their authority allows them to do," George County High School principal Paul Wallace said.

"Students can still read the books, parents can purchase the books from bookstores, but not through the school because they will not be on our library shelves and they will not be given to the students," George County superintendent Donnie Howell said.

But teachers say just reading the books isn't enough discussing and explaining the concepts is a way to a higher understanding of the material and an important tool in educating students.

McDonald said that school board members made their decision after reading passages from the books. Liberians we spoke to Wednesday said they won't even consider banning a book until all parties have read the novels in their entirety.

By Nathan Mihelich

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