NCAC urges Central York, Pa., School district to improve policy after various controversies over book ban
Controversy erupted in York, Pa., After the Central York School District banned a list of anti-racist texts and materials written by and about people of color. The “Diversity Committee Summer Meeting Resource List” contained suggestions for additional material for different grade levels to help contextualize the national conversation on racism and anti-racism. The district banned the use of the materials on the list in November 2020 after parents complained about the contents of some of the books. The long list of titles can be seen here and included both fiction and non-fiction books, as well as articles, videos and picture books. Students from the neighborhood protested against the ban, attract national media attention. In September 2021, the school board repealed it. The NACC wrote to the school board urging it to implement a more rigorous material selection and review policy to avoid future controversy.
This case illustrates one of the NVC’s most important best practices: creating clear policies and procedures regarding the selection of educational material, as well as clear review policies for disputed material that prioritizes keeping the material in the rooms. class rather than the personal opinions of the complainants. When these policies and procedures are clearly written and published publicly, districts are in a much better position to handle controversy when it arises and are less likely to censor students and teachers.
While we applaud the district’s decision to allow teachers to use the materials, the NCAC is concerned about the lack of clarity regarding who currently makes the final decision on what materials teachers can use in their classrooms. In its statement rescinding the one-year ban on these titles, the board acknowledged the difficulty of the district in developing a process to consider which resources should be approved for use in classrooms. If the board wishes to rely on the professional judgment of each teacher as to the choice of additional material, it must say so clearly and it must also ask teachers to ensure that they develop clear and solid justifications for each resource they are considering. ‘they use. This will allow the teacher to respond effectively to challenges, including increasing the likelihood that challenges can be resolved informally, to the satisfaction of all parties.
The NCAC has extensive experience advising districts on how to develop procedures that help ensure that all parties believe their concerns have been addressed. We have sent a copy of our guidelines for administrators looking to develop such procedures to the Central York School District.
Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: