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Respect Library Staff, Uphold Rejection Of Book Challenges



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The following letter has been received for publication:

An open letter to the Newtown Board of Education and community at large:

“The principle of freedom to read and the professional judgment of the staff must be defended.”

As former Board of Education chairs, we urge the current Board of Education members to heed these important words which appear in their own policy, and, by extension, the community’s policy. Please, uphold the unanimous recommendation from the Special Review Committee, and support the district staff’s professional judgment.

The librarians and teachers that the district hires are highly educated professionals who spend years preparing to teach and ultimately working with students. Their expertise includes choosing reading materials that provide a wide range of levels of difficulty, diversity of appeal, and different points of view. These diverse perspectives help students gain insight into themselves as well as the lives and challenges facing others.

School libraries contain a broad range of materials to add to students’ experiences beyond what is specifically used in the classroom. All students should have the opportunity to find characters with whom they connect. By having a wide variety of reading materials available to them in school, students and teachers are given the opportunity to discuss ideas and concerns in a supportive environment. Conversely, removing books once available can create a stigma on the subject matter and stifle students’ ability to explore a topic.

We entrust educators with our children for the majority of their waking hours, from learning to tie their shoes to finding meaning in reading and writing, from negotiating friendships and bullies to completing capstone projects, and from navigating emergencies to persisting through pandemics. When there are disagreements in the community about academic materials, we must continue to entrust our educators to do what is best for the students.

Likewise, Board of Education members also have the responsibility to ensure that the district provides the best possible education for all students.

This is done by:

1) hiring a capable Superintendent to oversee the professionalism within the district;

2) maintaining comprehensive policies; and

3) providing staff with the resources they need to make informed educational decisions.

You have done this. Now, we urge you to uphold these processes and support our district staff in their efforts.

This letter is not intended to represent any boards or commissions upon which any of the signers currently serve.

Michelle Embree Ku, BOE Chair, 2017-21

Keith Alexander, BOE Chair, 2014-17

Debbie Leidlein, BOE Chair, 2011-14

Bill Hart, BOE Chair, 2010-11

Lillian Bittman, BOE Chair, 2009-2010

Alan Martin, BOE Chair, 1976-80

Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. qstorm says:

    Elections have consequences a wise man once said. Or the shoe is on the other foot. Undoing the legacy of the previous management takes time especially when it has been long entrenched. We must question the people, processes and results now more than ever.

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