Katy ISD reinstates banned books, reschedules author visit after critical race theory allegations refuted – Houston Chronicle

Jerry Craft is the author of numerous award-willing children’s books.
Jerry Craft’s graphic novels are back on Katy ISD library shelves after a review committee found the claims against them baseless.
Author Jerry Craft’s award-winning graphic novels are back on Katy ISD library shelves after a review committee ruled that the books do not contain subversive or offensive material.
Craft’s books were pulled from libraries and a speaking event with Craft was postponed after a district parent claimed the books promote critical race theory and anti-white rhetoric. The books, which are winners of numerous illustrious literature awards, focus on the experiences of a Black preteen who attends a predominantly white private school. Craft said the books are based on the actual experiences of his two sons.
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“Earlier this week, the review committee met and determined the appropriateness of the book, ‘New Kid,’” a statement from the district said. “The reading material is already back on district library shelves, and the virtual author visit is scheduled to take place on October 25 as part of the instructional day.”
The crusade against Craft’s work was led by Bonnie Anderson, a former Katy ISD board of trustees candidate, who once sued the district for $100,000 for requiring masks in the 2020-21 school year. In addition to claiming the books teach critical race theory, Anderson also alleged that they promote Marxism.
A now-deleted change.org petition initiated by Anderson garnered fewer than 500 signatures in a district of nearly 90,000 students, but due to district protocol, the books were pulled from shelves and placed under review.
Any parent may dispute a library book, said Laura Davis, media relations representative for the district, and doing so will result in the books being automatically removed from libraries and placed under review.
According to district protocol EF(LEGAL), the district “shall not remove materials from a library for the purpose of denying students access to ideas with which the district disagrees.” The district may, however, remove library books “because they are pervasively vulgar or based solely upon the educational suitability of the books in question.”
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Katy ISD faced swift backlash from the removal of the books, with angry parents accusing the district of censorship and racism against African-Americans. A counter petition on change.org to have Craft’s books reinstated and his visit rescheduled received 2,101 signatures in two days.
“Having no political clout individually, we wish to combine our voices as we communicate with the leaders of our school district and our community in begging them to resist the urge to bow to the uninformed,” the counter petition said. “We believe that it would be a blight on our community if our leaders do not listen. If they do not, we will be content in letting the rest of the world know that ignorance and hatefulness do not reign over the entire Katy community.”
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Claire Goodman is a senior reporter for the Houston Chronicle.
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