Set ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Free in Plaquemines PSD English Classrooms

In the middle of a unit on Harper Lee’s classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, students at Belle Chasse High School in Lousiana were informed they wouldn’t be finishing the book. Apparently, their teachers told them, the book is banned.

Newer teachers in the district were teaching the book,  unaware that it was banned from use in 2001. The ban came back into force, however, following new parental complaints.


Today, we sent a letter to the district lending support to the ACLU of Louisiana’s statement alleging the ban violates students’ First Amendment rights. The letter urges them to rescind it as soon as possible. According to school officials, the board will likely be reconsidering the policy in the near future. 

“I wasn’t really offended,” freshman Dugan Epperson told news reporters. “It’s not that bad, we’re in high school, we’re getting mature, you know?” 

When a ban like this comes up, we often hear a disbelieving chorus:  “Really?? That book??” Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird is a practically unimpeachable classic — a Pulitzer prize winning novel, taught to millions of students. A 1990 study found it was the 5th most taught book in high schools.

But the question should really be, “why ban any book?” Barring access to a book — any book — in a setting where students could be guided to think critically about its themes is counterproductive and short-sighted. Taught with professionalism and perspective, any book is worthy of consideration, even if lesson finds a book’s characters or even the writing itself, wanting.


About Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship

Blogging Censorship is where National Coalition Against Censorship staff weigh in on the censorship issues on their minds.
This entry was posted in Acacia O'Connor: Author and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Set ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Free in Plaquemines PSD English Classrooms

  1. Dan Kleinman says:

    NCAC, let me ask you a serious question. Here you are writing about that rare school that sees fit to “ban” To Kill a Mockingbird. Yet Common Core State Standards Initiative effectively bans To Kill a Mockingbird from all classrooms nationwide, only its done in a clever way one reporter calls “squeezed off the syllabus.” The question is, will you, as the National Coalition Against Censorship, oppose the nationwide censorship from any school of To Kill a Mockingbird by Common Core State Standards Initiative?

    And I just added a quick comment and a link to this NCAC story on my own:

    “Massive Censorship as Common Core Kills the Mockingbird; Expect Silence from the American Library Association”

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