Toni Morrison Books Survive Another Challenge from Florida Tea Party

August 26, 2019
By

bluesteyeLast week news came out of Marion County School District that the school board and Superintendent were standing behind Toni Morrison’s Beloved and The Bluest Eye, as well as Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. These three books were challenged again after a local political group, It’s Your Tea Party Florida, decided it didn’t like the recommendation from the Superintendent and the school board to keep these titles after their last round of challenges failed back in June.

Superintendent Heidi Maier urged the school board not to ban Morrison’s books,  which is a reversal from Maier’s original comments back in February, where she told reporter’s she “found it difficult to defend the book’s educational value at the middle school level, as well as in “some” high school settings.” Which goes to show the importance of these committees where they reread the texts before making recommendations. Now according to a local news report,

Maier argued that Morrison, who was black, wrote about slavery and the horror some female slaves endured. Those experiences should not be banned from high school libraries.

Maier urged the board not to ban the books just because they may make them feel uncomfortable.

The school board said that banning these books would set a dangerous precedent, and open up the removal of such classics as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Bible. There was no mention how the removal of many of these books from the middle school libraries back in February set a precedent. 

The Backstory

In February, CBLDF reported the political group It’s Your Tea Party Florida (IYTPF) demanded the removal of 14 books from Marion County School District. Of the 14 books, only ten were actually available for loan in the libraries. Of that ten, only nine were officially challenged, and so the committee only read and made recommendations on the nine:  Of those nine, the committee and Superintendent recommended all nine remain in high school, but only three of the nine were recommended to keep in middle schools. The school board backed the recommendations, but then IYTPF decided to rechallenge three of the books that were recommended to remain in the high schools.  The whole saga reads like an AP Math problem.

The Original Challenges and Recommendations

  • Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher (available at Forest and Lake Weir high schools)
    Committee: Allow in high school libraries.
    Maier: Supports.
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (available at all Marion high schools)
    Committee: Allow in middle and high libraries.
    Maier: Supports.
  • The Women of Brewster’s Place by Gloria Naylor (available at North Marion High)
    Committee: Allow books in high school libraries.
    Maier: Supports.
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (available at all Marion high schools)
    Committee: Allow books in high school libraries.
    Maier: Supports.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison: (available at all Marion high schools)
    Committee: Allow in high school libraries, case-by-case in middle schools.
    Maier: Only in high school.
  • Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia (available at Dunnellon High School and West Port High School)
    Committee: Allow books in middle and high libraries.
    Maier: Only in high school.
  • Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan (available at all Marion high schools except Dunnellon)
    Committee: Allow books in middle and highs libraries.
    Maier: Supports.
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin: (available at all Marion high schools)
    Committee: Allow in high school libraries.
    Maier: Supports.
  • Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (available at Dunnellon, North Marion, Vanguard and West Port high schools)
    Committee: Allow books in high school libraries.
    Maier: Supports.

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