The Chicago Public Schools have restricted students’ access to Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of her youth in Iran. CPS chief of teaching and learning Annette Gurley informed Publishers Weekly that Persepolis will not be taught in 7th through 10th grade classrooms until the CPS curriculum department can put in place guidelines for teachers “who are not familiar with the book [to] better help students navigate through” it. Lowder wrote that “no decision has been made to remove Persepolis from 8th to 10th grade.
Citing case law, Lowder argued that school boards have “broad discretion in selecting the public school curriculum” and that the “Chicago Board of Education has taken no action to create a public forum in the Chicago Public Schools.
A letter of concern was sent last week by six free speech advocacy organizations, including the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.
“While we are relieved that the book will remain available to older students, the restriction on access to junior high students is extremely troubling,” the letter from the NCAC and five other organizations stated, “The explanation that the book is ‘inappropriate for this age group’ is unpersuasive. The vast majority of Chicago middle school students are surely aware of violence and its devastating effects on people of all ages. Most have witnessed it on the news, if not in their own neighborhoods.”
What is your take on the situation in the Chicago Public Schools? Is any kind of censorship appropriate in a democracy such as ours? Would the children of Chicago gain a deeper understanding of Iranian people by reading the book? Your comments would be appreciated in this post.