Minnesota school district removes To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum
14 February 2018
In a reactionary decision made earlier this week, the Duluth, Minnesota, school board decided to remove Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), set in the Jim Crow south, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), about the friendship between a white boy and an escaped slave in the antebellum South, from its schools’ curricula. The reason given was the frequent use of racial slurs.
Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the district, told the media, “Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students.”
The decision was made by a group of “district leaders and leaders in Duluth’s secondary schools,” after complaints by parents and students. Apparently, teachers were not consulted and only heard the news last week.
The books will remain in the Duluth Public School libraries.
The decision was called “long overdue” by Duluth NAACP Vice President Claudie Washington. In a remarkably blinkered and arrogant statement, he claimed that “Teachers don’t know how to teach that. You know, that’s my belief and it’s not necessary that they even try. They can’t identify with that period.”
Contrary to Mr. Washington’s assertion, these challenging works are eminently teachable, which is why they have been included in the curricula of thousands of schools for decades in the United States, and still are. The two books in particular lend themselves to revealing the reality of the present though the outlook of the authors of and…