A Pennsylvania school district that had banned a list of anti-racism books and educational resources by or about people of color — including children’s titles about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. — reversed its nearly year-long decision this week after backlash and protests from students, parents and educators in the community, reports the Washington Post.
The Central York School District had implemented “a freeze” last fall on a lengthy list of books and educational resources that focused almost entirely on titles related to people of color. The school district claimed the books on race and social justice, which some in the southern Pennsylvania community hoped would help bolster the educational curriculum following George Floyd’s murder and the racial-justice protests of 2020, were frozen, not banned, after some parents raised concerns about the materials.
The school board announced last week it had voted unanimously to reinstate access to the books, district spokeswoman said.
Jane Johnson, president of the school board, said in a statement that the review of the anti-racist materials had “taken far too long.” The all-White school board had taken months to vet books and materials such as children’s titles on Parks and King, education activist Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, the Oscar-nominated PBS documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” about writer James Baldwin and CNN’s “Sesame Street” town hall on racism.
Johnson previously noted that some parents in the district “believe that rather than uniting on diversity, certain resources polarize and divide on diversity and are based on disputed theories and facts.”
“What we are attempting to do is balance legitimate academic freedom with what could be literature/materials that are too activist in nature, and may lean more toward indoctrination rather than age-appropriate academic content,” Johnson said this week. “To that end, we recognize the intensity of opinions on all sides of these issues, and we are committed to making this long delay right.”