Book Bans & Civic Ed. in Georgia Schools

Parents on Crusade to Ban Books!
Book Banning at Unprecedented Levels
Education in America Under Threat

The headlines above are misleading and false media portrayals of parents in school districts across America raising awareness and expressing concern about appropriate content for their local schools by participating in a deliberative process.

Parents aren’t calling for book bans, and school boards aren’t banning books. People who think that’s what’s happening don’t understand the history and purpose of public schools.

Since its inception, the public school–we have been told–has played a vital role in providing students with basic skills for civic life and in inculcating fundamental values. Children in primary and secondary schools are impressionable. They are not fully formed, and schools are tasked to provide an appropriate education so students finish with the basic skills they need to be a part of society and understand the core values that form the basis of sustaining our democratic republic.

Young people are being instilled with social values and knowledge by the government when they attend public schools. Determining what social values and what knowledge is dispensed has long been a matter largely in the hands of local school boards. There are innumerable decisions to be made about what courses to teach, which books to buy (or remove from use), or even whom to hire. Therefore, board members must act based on their moral and personal values, endeavoring to reflect the values of the community.

With every book bought, another is not purchased. Some ideas are promoted instead of others. With every curriculum purchased or retired, some subjects are emphasized more than others. Making these decisions—removing or buying new books, textbooks, curriculum, or any instructional material—is not an assault on the first amendment, nor banning or censoring anything.

Selection or promotion of books, information, and knowledge outside what is deemed necessary by the school board and educators is inconsistent with the very nature and purpose of our inculcative system of education.

Anything taken off the shelves is easily available to students and non-students outside of school, and there is no effort to stop any student from bringing the books to read on their own at school, making the notion that parents are demanding book bans absurd. On the contrary, the involvement of parents and local communities in the process should be celebrated.

That said, I think more can be done. The frequent knock-on conservatives is that we don’t have many affirmative policy proposals. I disagree, but here, we might prescribe something that helps students learn the proper knowledge.

Recent political debates have rekindled interest in civics education. Georgia requires it. Certain texts should be required for summer reading as part of civics education. The Conservative Sensibility by Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist George F. Will is an ideal choice.

If read by Georgia high school students, The Conservative Sensibility would thwart any attempt to indoctrinate from the left or the right. It’s a unique combination of history and philosophy that is perfect for a civics education that avoids the current polarization and bickering. Although one reviewer declared that “if progressives studied Will’s latest brilliant tome, we’d have fewer progressives.”

If that’s not incentive enough, consider there are many summer reading lists in Georgia schools that include the books of racist antiracist Ibram X Kendi. Parents and community members should remain active and make suggestions such as requiring The Conservative Sensibility to be part of summer reading for high school civics classes.

“This book is, among other things, a summons to pessimism. What is needed now, and what it is especially incumbent on conservatives to provide, is intelligent pessimism that is more than a mere mood. It should be a mentality grounded in a philosophic tradition that has a distinguished pedigree, and that is validated by abundant historical evidence for this proposition: Nothing lasts.”
― George F. Will, The Conservative Sensibility


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