Group of Progressive Teachers in Washington Trying to Ban ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in Schools

A group of progressive teachers in Washington state are trying to get Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird banned in schools.

The Mukilteo School District teachers claim they are trying to “protect students from a book they saw as outdated and harmful.”

To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in the American South during the Great Depression.

The Washington Post reports:

The stories came out during Wednesday meetings of the Union for Students of African Ancestry, a group that Freeman-Miller, one of the only Black teachers at Kamiak High School, founded at teens’ request. Students shared their discomfort with the way the 1960 novel about racial injustice portrays Black people: One Black teen said the book misrepresented him and other African Americans, according to meeting records reviewed by The Washington Post. Another complained the novel did not move her, because it wasn’t written about her — or for her.

A third spoke about how a White teen said the n-word aloud while reading from “Mockingbird,” disobeying the teacher’s instructions to skip the slur, the student recalled in an interview with The Post. She spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear of harassment.

The report explains that four teachers “filed a formal book challenge in late 2021 — the first in 20 years, and the first ever to come from teachers.”

“To Kill A Mockingbird centers on whiteness,” the teachers wrote, and claimed that “it presents a barrier to understanding and celebrating an authentic Black point of view in Civil Rights era literature and should be removed.”

It was eventually removed from the ninth-grade reading list but remained on the list of approved books.

“Around the country, book challengers mostly came from the right. But in Mukilteo, the progressive teachers who complained about the novel saw themselves as part of an urgent national reckoning with racism, a necessary reconsideration of what we value, teach and memorialize following the killing of George Floyd,” The Post report explains. “They weren’t asking to pull the book from the library — just to stop forcing it on students. They believed they were protecting children.”

 

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