Reading is a pleasure and necessary to encourage and facilitate independent thought. The book, Neverwhere, has been temporarily banned by the Alamogordo School Board for one passage, which is believed to cause the entire novel to be "R-Rated" by at least one parent.
Neverwhere has been taught in Alamogordo every year since 2004, sometimes to multiple grade levels and often by more than one teacher. That means that thousands of students have read and enjoyed this book. It's success is proven, just as the success of a book like To Kill a Mockingbird is proven, though it may contain situations and words we don't all agree with.
Taken in context the passage in question lends perspective to the character who is witnessing the offending actions and conversation. The knee-jerk reaction of the school board dismisses the professional experience and skills of our educators teaching the book, the maturity of the students and the opinions of valid literary critics. By removing the book mid-lesson, they have disrupted the learning of other students and are ignoring the rights of other parents who trust educators and have no problem with the book.
We want two things to happen:
1. To reinstate the book and send the message that we as concerned parents and members of the community will not tolerate censorship being used to diminish the learning process and expansion of independent thought in our youth.
2. For the board to work with its teachers to create a better policy for dealing with any future issues like this, that gives parents and outlet but that also clearly respects teachers' judgment and students' freedom to explore a variety of subjects. Yes, parents can ask for a different assignment if their personal views conflict with a certain book, but they shouldn't be able to change and dictate the entire curriculum because of those views.
- George Straface
Alamogordo Public School Superintendent
- School Board President
- Alamogordo Public Schools Review Committee
APS Review Committee
Return Neil Gaiman's book "Neverwhere" to the Alamogordo High School shelves and to the curriculum. Please take steps to strengthen policies: protect students' rights to an education that respects their maturity and teachers' freedom to select what they think best to teach.
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