Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Questions for District 214 Incumbents...

Someone should demand that the District 214 Board provide evidence for their insinuation that those who challenge the appropriateness of certain curricular materials are attempting to establish a state-endorsed religion, because that would be the only action that is constitutionally prohibited. Where does the board find in the words of Leslie Pinney anything to suggest that she or any others are trying to establish religion? For board members to bring in religion, smacks of a witch hunt and a violation of policies that prohibit discrimination based on religion.

Does anyone question the board members' positions, suggesting that perhaps they reflect or embody religiously derived views? I assume that some of them attend churches or temples also.

The board members who criticize Pinney et al. reveal a shamefully ignorant understanding of the relationship between religion and the state. People of faith, whether Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish are, indeed, permitted to have their faith shape their political decisions; they may not, however, legislate religious practices, which, to my knowledge, none have attempted to do.

Implying that challenging the appropriateness of books for inclusion in curricula represents a constitutional violation is wrong and ignorant. That which is political is inherently moral, and that which is moral is, for religious people, inherently religious. To suggest that all people whose politics are shaped my religious beliefs must exit public schools is an outrage. By logical extension of the argument, the only people who can shape policy are atheists, agnostics, scientific materialists, or humanists, all of whom represent faiths in that at their foundation, they rely on unproven and unprovable assumptions.

In public schools, faculty routinely decides which texts to include and which to exclude. They make those decisions based on a whole host of criteria, one of which is "appropriateness." You don't see many schools teaching Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho because it is excessively vulgar and violent.

Are the District 214 Board members actually claiming that no public school teacher should ever take into account sexual explicitness or graphic violence when considering a text? So, they can take into account whether it is sufficiently politically correct in the way it addresses race, gender, class, and sexual orientation, but they can never address the graphic nature of sex and violence. Rejecting texts because they do not address race, gender, class, or sexual orientation in a politically correct fashion is legitimate decision-making, but rejecting a text because it addresses sex or violence in a problematic way is censorship. Funny how that works. And if that’s their claim, it portends nothin' good.