Book banning fears intensify after assistant principal fired over book

For Toby Price, a book changed his life. “It’s a story about a young man who realizes, ‘I have a crack back there. How did that happen?'” Price said. “And he goes shopping for butts and they have issues with the fact that there’s butts in the book.” Price lost his job as an assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary School after reading the children’s book, “I Need a New Butt” to a second-grade class after a guest reader canceled at the last minute. “The same day, I ended up in the (Hinds County School) District office suspended with pay. Two days later, back at the district office – terminated because I read this book,” Price said.Price appealed, but the school board sided with the superintendent. “The connection between his story and what’s going on all over is what happens when everyone is so scared,” said Jonathan Friedman, with Pen America.According to Pen America, an organization that intersects literature and free expression, that fear is tied to a recent trend over the last year of parents and politicians calling for certain books to be banned. “There is a new kind of organization taking place among parents groups, particularly online, sharing lists of books they would like to remove from schools , “Friedman said.The city of Ridgeland made national headlines this year after Mayor Gene McGee withheld nearly $ 100,000 of funding from the city’s public library over children’s books some considered inappropriate – an issue that ha s since been resolved.Most recently, in Madison County Schools, a handful of parents challenged 22 books in different middle and high schools, several of which address race in America. One of the books is “The Hate U Give,” by local author Angie Thomas. “Our district both believes in the free exchange in ideas and also respects that parents should have a voice in what it is their children are reading,” said Gene. Wright, director of communications for the Madison County School District.The district’s policy is when a book is challenged, it’s placed in a restricted section that requires permission from a parent to read. A review team of faculty and parents will read each book to decide if it stays restricted, goes back on display or is removed. A solution some experts call undemocratic. “Students might have an interest in understanding a topic. They might have questions about something they want to ask their teachers and they’re about to be met with walls of silence or empty library shelves where they can’t find that. information, “Friedman said.But some parents say it should be their choice to educate their children on certain topics, not a book in school. This debate is a complex one, which in some cases, puts even more pressure on schools already managing politics creeping into the classroom. “That’s the fear. What happens when schools are guided by fear: People lose their jobs,” Friedman said.While one book ended Toby Price’s education career, his own book could spark a new one. Just last month, he signed a deal to write a book advocating for autistic children. His dream was inspired by his own three children, two of whom have autism.

For Toby Price, a book changed his life.

“It’s a story about a young man who realizes, ‘I have a crack back there. How did that happen?'” Price said. “And he goes shopping for butts and they have issues with the fact that there’s butts in the book.”

Price lost his job as an assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary School after reading the children’s book, “I Need a New Butt” to a second-grade class after a guest reader canceled at the last minute.

“The same day, I ended up in the (Hinds County School) District office suspended with pay. Two days later, back at the district office – terminated because I read this book,” Price said.

Price appealed, but the school board sided with the superintendent.

“The connection between his story and what’s going on all over is what happens when everyone is so scared,” said Jonathan Friedman, with Pen America.

According to Pen America, an organization that intersects literature and free expression, that fear is tied to a recent trend over the last year of parents and politicians calling for certain books to be banned.

“There is a new kind of organization taking place among parents groups, particularly online, sharing lists of books they would like to remove from schools,” Friedman said.

The city of Ridgeland made national headlines this year after Mayor Gene McGee withheld nearly $ 100,000 of funding from the city’s public library over children’s books some considered inappropriate – an issue that has since been resolved.

Most recently, in Madison County Schools, a handful of parents challenged 22 books in different middle and high schools, several of which address race in America. One of the books is “The Hate U Give,” by local author Angie Thomas.

“Our district both believes in the free exchange in ideas and also respects that parents should have a voice in what it is their children are reading,” said Gene Wright, director of communications for the Madison County School District.

The district’s policy is when a book is challenged, it’s placed in a restricted section that requires permission from a parent to read. A review team of faculty and parents will read each book to decide if it stays restricted, goes back on display or is removed. A solution some experts call undemocratic.

“Students might have an interest in understanding a topic. They might have questions about something they want to ask their teachers and they’re about to be met with walls of silence or empty library shelves where they can’t find that information,” Friedman said.

But some parents say it should be their choice to educate their children on certain topics, not a book in school. This debate is a complex one, which in some cases, puts even more pressure on schools already managing politics creeping into the classroom.

“That’s the fear. What happens when schools are led by fear: People lose their jobs,” Friedman said.

While one book ended Toby Price’s education career, his own book could spark a new one. Just last month, he signed a deal to write a book advocating for autistic children. His dream was inspired by his own three children, two of whom have autism.

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