Howard Co. panel rejects pleas for removal of 2 books School board committee calls complaints unjustified

November 06, 1990|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

A committee of the Howard County Board of Education voted unanimously in a closed meeting yesterday to recommend that C. S. Lewis' classic fantasy, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," be retained in elementary school libraries and a book on unwed teen-age mothers retained in the middle schools.

Associate county School Superintendent Joan Palmer is expected to follow the advisory committee's recommendation in a decision to be issued tomorrow. The middle school book, "Kids Having Kids: the Unwed Teenaged Parent," is by Janet Bode.

The Lewis book is the first in his well-known "Chronicle of Narnia" series.

Last month Dr. Palmer followed the committee's recommendation to remove Daniel Cohen's "Curses, Hexes, & Spells" from elementary libraries as not appropriate for young readers. The Cohen book was retained in middle and high school libraries.

A parent has said she was "shocked" to find fifth-grade students reading the C. S. Lewis book in class, claiming it depicted "graphic violence, mysticism and gore." Another parent said she found Ms. Bode's book, which outlines options including abortion and adoption for pregnant teen-agers, to be inappropriate for middle school children and asked that it be removed from middle school libraries.

The recent requests to remove books from school libraries and the curriculum has prompted 99 parents to take a stand against censorship in the Howard County school system in a petition sent to Dr. Palmer this month.

The petition was considered by the advisory committee yesterday. The parents who signed it said they were "alarmed at the recent requests for censorship of books in the Howard county public schools" and added, "We feel that exposure to a wide variety of knowledge and opinion is necessary for our children to develop into educated and well-informed adults."

The petitioners went on to say they believe parents have a right to monitor the books their children read. However, they said, "We do not feel that a parent has the right to ask for removal of a book so that other students may not avail themselves of it."

The petition expressed the concern that "we could end up with a very diluted curriculum and reference library in our schools."

Several members of the committee who are parents said they considered the complaints about "graphic violence" and witchcraft in C. S. Lewis' book to be "taken out of context." The book on unwed teen-agers was found by several of the committee members to be a fair presentation of the issues that adolescents who are pregnant will have to face.

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