The crusade to rid Texas schools of what some term “inappropriate” or “obscene” reading material moved a step further Monday.
Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the State Board of Education calling for immediate standards to keep such material out of children’s hands.
The governor wants a set of guidelines for districts and schools to determine what is or is not appropriate and says parents and community members should be involved.
We don’t disagree with the idea. We don’t think anyone would.
There is a concern, though– a valid concern in our view — about what criteria will be used to determine of reading material is appropriate or not for children. And what role politics will play in those criteria.
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said that he couldn’t define obscenity, but he knew it when he saw it.
The problem is two intelligent people can disagree on what they see. One might take a paragraph or two of clearly questionable content and declare the whole work beyond the pale. Another would say the entire work must be viewed in context before making any such judgement,.
And there are those whose idea of “inappropriate” is anything that questions their political positions, view of traditional values or even perspective on history.
So these state agencies should tread carefully. The danger in this sort of thing is the very real temptation to narrow make our children think one certain way when the true purpose of education is to teach them to think for themselves.
Print Headline: IN OUR VIEW/Reading Restrictions? Texas governor wants vetting process for books in schools
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