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Spring Branch ISD to discuss a book ban today

I don’t post stuff like this often – it’s not really my remit, and timeliness usually works against me – but this one really annoyed me, so here it is. Via Facebook:

PLEASE CONSIDER SPEAKING ON TUESDAY @ 1PM! (If you cannot make Tuesday, consider speaking to the topic at tonight’s board meeting instead)

This is the first book complaint that has been elevated to a level-3 for consideration under our new school board. This book complaint was reviewed by a committee of 7 (1 middle school librarian, 1 middle school teacher, 1 high school librarian, 1 high school teacher, 1 secondary campus administrator, 1 parent that has both a middle & high school students, and 1 district admin. The committee voted unanimously that the age recommendation and content were appropriate and recommended retaining the book at SBISD libraries in both middle and high school.

Level 2 Review: Denise Thompson Bell appealed the decision made by the reconsideration committee so the book was escalated for review by upper administration. Dr. Kristin Craft reviewed the comments and work of the review committee and upheld the decision that the content and age recommendation were appropriate and retained the book in SBISD libraries.

Denise Thompson Bell has since appealed the decision again, escalating this to a level 3 complaint to be heard by the board for final decision. There will be a public comment period and I ask that if you can participate at all, that would be incredibly helpful!

We know that the right to have access to books that are meaningful to a student support literacy efforts and have shown increased rates of reading. Being able to read books on different subject matters refines a student’s critical thinking skills. Parents have always had the right to restrict the reading of their own children, but this personal parenting choice should not be imposed upon the general public.

In most cases, school board meetings should be restricted to those who live in district. In this case, however, it would be beneficial for the board to hear why and how this book is important literature that should remain available to our students, regardless of the district residency of the speaker. If you or anyone you know have been affected by the more subtle aspects of racism that are described in the book, either as the target of racism, or as an individual who has actively worked to educate themselves on anti-racism, then there is benefit to you speaking up. The board needs to know that limiting books on racism and other helpful topics will cause students to feel alienated from their own school district, which will have a deleterious effect on their education and mental well being.

Speakers will need to arrive at 12:30 in order to fill out paperwork and have it submitted PRIOR TO 1pm. Public comment opportunity will be at the beginning of the meeting. Then, the board will sit with their attorney and hear the grievance as presented by Denise Thompson Bell and deliberate. After deliberation, and hopefully consideration of public comment, the decision will be made to either retain the book in SBISD libraries as has been recommended by the specialists that review books and the specialists in our district, place the book on their newly enacted restricted shelf, or ban the book from district libraries altogether.

Spread the word, far and wide! We need speakers to stand up. This will not stop at one book on racism. A book complaint for a book that has a wedding with two brides has already been escalated to level 2, and likely will be appealed again (as John Perez requested). This affects all people, whether or not they have experienced any form of bigotry or not.

I have included information regarding the board meeting in the pics attached, as well as supporting documentation of the complaint and appeal process. Documents acquired via public information request. Hope to see you then!

That’s from a closed Facebook group, so I’m omitting the link since many of you would not be able to see it anyway. The book is called The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person. Here are the pictures mentioned, which include some information about the meeting:

Here’s the public notice and agenda for this meeting; general info about SBISD meetings is here. I said this annoyed me because SBISD normally holds meetings at 6 PM, a time when many working people can attend. This one is for 1 PM, in the middle of many people’s work days, and it was called on Friday afternoon for this Tuesday, so there was very little time for anyone to even hear about it. You probably can’t be there, if you even see this in time, but if you do and you can, you can show up and push back. Good luck to those who do.

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