what better way to make children read?
We would like to thank Republican State Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth for launching an investigation into the books lining the shelves of Texas public schools.
Not really. Thank you. Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be a kid, driven by a bubbling curiosity and that indomitable urge to do the opposite of what adults say. What more ingenious way to persuade students to read than to type out a 16-page list of books and tell schools those titles are under investigation?
It’s a smart move. We would expect hundreds, if not thousands, of teens to peruse this list, puzzled.
Most titles relate to race or sexuality. The list includes everything from And Still I Rise: Black America from MLK, an encyclopedic exploration of the past 50 years of African American history by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kevin M. Burke, at Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe, a young adult novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz about two Mexican-American teenagers who came to terms with being gay in the 1980s. (The Spanish version of this title also appears on the list.)
We wondered how Krause so diligently arrived at his list of 850 suspicious books, which education experts he consulted, and which titles he believes should be taken out of schools. His chief of staff did not respond to our emails.
As chairman of the House General Inquiry Committee, Krause asked school districts not only to search their collections for titles on his list, but also to flag any books on their shelves that contained human sexuality. This puts a target on a host of classics that describe sex and sexual abuse. Imagine Toni Morrison’s Burning Novel Beloved on the trauma of a family caused by the horrors of slavery, Larry McMurtry Lonely dove epic about the rocky life of Texans in the Wild West and even the Bible, a seamless story of creation and salvation.
Krause also asked schools to identify books that might make students uncomfortable because of their race or gender. If anyone can guess this, surely it is the librarians and school teachers, who have once been tasked with navigating a mess of conflicting public health decrees and keeping our children at school level during a pandemic and a scarcity of resources. national workforce. Why not give our educators one more reason to leave the profession?
There are ways for parents to complain to their schools about content that may be too mature for their children. But that hasn’t stopped Krause from following a Texas House tradition of sniffing out controversies over school textbooks. In 1962, a special House committee probed non-American influences in textbooks – an investigation that fell apart following accusations that the committee chairman had used it as a political stick.
We don’t know what drives Krause. We know he’s running to overthrow Attorney General Ken Paxton in 2022.
If Krause wants to distract overworked educators from the crucial work of making up for learning losses related to COVID-19 so that they can examine hundreds and hundreds of books, then he has to sincerely believe that this fishing expedition is the best use. of their time. If he wants to protect children from difficult subjects and ideas that might challenge them, he does it in a way that will only pique their interest in what he deems forbidden.
Krause might really think he’s doing the right thing for our kids. Otherwise, he sabotages the education of children to score political points, and we shudder at the thought of someone falling so low.