History curricula are under fire around the country, from Jefferson County, Colorado, to a recent attack in Florida. CBLDF has joined a coalition led by the National Coalition Against Censorship to defend two history books in used in 10th grade classrooms in Charlotte County, Florida.
CBLDF joins coalition efforts like these to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.
The books in question — The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History and World History: Connections to Today — have been challenged by ACT! for America, a “non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to promoting national security and defeating terrorism.” The group claims that the books promote an “Islamist agenda” and contain “specific inaccuracies and misrepresentations.”
The Earth and Its Peoples is used in AP world history classrooms and World History is used in general history classrooms. ACT!’s complaints prompted the formation of a special world history textbook review committee in the district. After reviewing the passages ACT! alleges are inaccurate, the committee voted 8-2 in support of keeping the books in classrooms. District Superintendent Doug Whittaker agreed with the decision, but subsequent complaints, mostly from local members of ACT!, have led to a special school board meeting scheduled to take place March 3. The school board will vote on the fate of the books, prompting NCAC — and CBLDF — to take action.
In their letter, NCAC describes why conceding to ACT!’s complaint is problematic:
While ACT! is fully entitled to promote its mission in many ways, it has no right to do so through the public education system. The public schools have a different mission: to educate students for further study, adulthood and citizenship by teaching material and skills needed to progress in their lives and contribute to their communities. Consistent with this mission, the public schools cannot promote one group’s religiously or politically informed viewpoints; that would not only undermine the quality of education but also result in the privileging of the beliefs of some individuals over others. It is precisely this form of viewpoint discrimination by government that our constitutional system is designed to prevent.
You can read the entirety of the letter CBLDF signed below. It is our sincere hope that the school board will uphold the decision of the review committee and superintendent, and we’ll post updates as they become available.