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Idaho city's school board drops book ban

By The Associated Press
12.19.08

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The Coeur d'Alene school board has voted to allow 26 books back into classrooms after they were removed from a list of approved titles earlier this year.

Board members voted unanimously Dec. 15 to list the books among novels that teachers are allowed to select for required assignments for students in sixth through 12th grades.

Earlier this year, the district devised an approval system after some parents complained that some books selected by teachers contained vulgar, profane language and dealt with subjects inappropriate for students.

The books were removed from classrooms before the start of the school year so they could be reviewed by a committee of parents, educators, district officials and community members.

In November, the committee recommended the board approve Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, but the board split 2-2, keeping it out of the classroom.

Published in 1932, Brave New World portrays a future society designed to eliminate human discomfort, and where humans themselves are engineered to fill jobs in different levels of society.

Vern Newby, who voted against the book earlier, voted with the majority Dec. 15 to allow the novel into classroom.

"I continued doing my homework and talked to teachers, I think all of them, some I've known for as long as 38 years," Newby told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "They're good people who care about how they teach. They're professionals."

Some of the other books approved include Where the Red Fern Grows, Alice in Wonderland, Secret Life of Bees, Shane, Death of a Salesman, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, 1984, Frankenstein and Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

About 100 people attended the meeting, and the board listened to about an hour of public comments.

"I'm more for sensible policy and appropriate teaching methods than I am for limiting of student options and opportunities for growth and opportunities to interact with literature," said Coeur d'Alene High School teacher Eric Louis.

Also on the list was J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, which portrays a teen expelled from school who is telling his story to a therapist.

Louis said he read the book in eighth grade in a Catholic school in Pennsylvania.

"We had to have parent permission, so I went out and I got that," Louis said. "I know that there are people in this room that are teachers because of that novel, because of the profound effect that that novel has, placing the individual in society and society around that individual and the conflicts that arise, the problem of being an intellectual in a not-so-intellectual universe."


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