I’m extremely troubled by the actions taken by Matt Krause in regards to the books that exist in our classrooms and our libraries in Texas’ public education system.
According to the ACLU, challenges and bannings have begun to gradually decrease since 2003, but now with the passing of HB3979 and SB3 and the banning of Critical Race Theory, questions and raised eyebrows are fueling the book targeting again.
As such, challenges and book bans are a threat to freedom of speech and choice, according to the American Library Association.
SB 3, itself, limits the civic development of students and it prevents teachers from discussing it in their classrooms. It’s in stark contrast to the core mission of Texas public education, as well as possibly limiting the service learning component of the International Baccalaureate programs in Texas’ top high schools.
The possible book ban is fueled by Matt Krause, a conservative-conservative, who is running for the office of Attorney General. He claims the books on the list cause discomfort to some Texas students. He’s chosen to use his chairmanship of the Texas General Investigation Committee to garner name recognition for his political run.
Apparently, none of the other committee members know much about this, so we can assume it was an independent move by Matt Krause.
So far, Austin ISD and Dallas ISD have refused to submit to the request from Krause, citing that it is not “official”. They are right. I’ve read the duties and obligations of the General Investigation Committee, and investigating books in our schools is not cited anywhere.
An added caveat is that Krause refuses to comment on how the list was developed or who he consulted to compose the list.
My argument is this: Matt Krause has no education certification in Library Science, nor is he certified to teach. I am assuming he has no knowledge of the psychosocial sequence in students, since he was a history and social science major at two devout Christian colleges. To me, his educational and training background is problematic. He has no expertise regarding appropriate reading material for students K-12. I mean, you don’t ask your plumber to do your heart surgery, right? And to add: Teachers and librarians must adjust their age appropriate book lists every year because of changing demographics and maturity level of their students. Only professionals, not politicians, know this.
As a former Reading and English teacher, Matt Krause needs to realize that there are TWO categories of books: Those that endure the passage of time, because they accurately represent life’s universal truths and the reality of the human condition, and those that merely speak to the trend du jour. The latter will cancel themselves out, if we allow the intellectual debate to play itself out. We need to do nothing. And it’s an added plus that students get to exercise their minds and grow, thinking critically and storing the concepts that really matter and discarding that which has no purpose to their cognitive growth.
In my thirty year experience in working with students, I’ve never had a book that caused discomfort or guilt to those reading it.
Much of literature is wasted on adolescents and children because of readiness and maturation level. When I was 14, I didn’t care much for Melville’s Moby Dick, but in college, one of my professors remarked, “Everyone has a white whale in their life.” That comment motivated me to re-read the book and appreciate it. Hinton’s The Outsiders was remarkably popular with my seventh graders because it was related to life as they knew it.
And by the way, Mein Kampf is not on Kraus’ list.