EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – A complaint about a well-known piece of literature launched a review by Columbia County leaders.
Parent and educator Lori Van Lenten said she’s disappointed with a recent push by a local parent to ban the book, To Kill A Mockingbird because of the racial language.
“How do we teach them how to have those kinds of conversations and how to think about those things from another person’s perspective,” she explained. “We can take this example and say this happened in history and this was how people spoke in those times. It’s unacceptable. It’s not ok and here’s why it’s hurtful.”
NewsChannel 6 spoke with Columbia County School District’s Associate Superintendent Michele Sherman about the appeal. She said right now, the book has not been banned. She said it’s not required reading either. Instead, teachers can choose the book, which is marked for Freshmen in high school, from a list of approved novels.
“At one of our high schools, one of our teachers was utilizing this book, this novel in her classroom to meet the standards of the content area. That is what brought about the challenge,” said Michele Sherman, Associate Superintendent, Columbia County School District.
To Kill A Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, won a Pulitzer Prize a year later. The novel takes place in a fictional town in Alabama during the Great Depression. There, a Black man is accused of raping a white woman and his lawyer’s children watch the trial play out. Sherman said the parent who filed the appeal will have a chance to share her concerns with the Learning Resource Appeal Committee, made up of teachers and parents.
Sherman added, “The committee will hear that and then each person is required to read the book in its entirety. And then they have a rubric that they complete with it. Then, they will make a decision. And then the parent is alerted of that decision.”
Van Lenten also told us she introduced the book to her oldest child when he was in the eighth grade and had the very real discussion with him as well regarding race and other topics mentioned in the pages. And she said she trusts the highly qualified educators in Columbia County to do the right thing.
She added, “If you are a parent that has a problem with that book, you have the right to pull your child from school and home school them.”
Sherman said the committee meets February 22 and a decision on the book takes place at that meeting.
Photojournalist: Regynal Mckie