New London-Spicer parents want book banned

In west-central Minnesota, the New London-Spicer School District provides an alternative lesson plan when parents object to a book being discussed in class. The objecting students leave the room and study somewhere else.

At issue now is the 2007 book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie.

This week, a couple of parents told the school board the alternative lesson plan isn’t good enough — it amounted to “punishment” for their kids, they said — and they want the book removed from the eighth-grade curriculum. They say the book features “gratuitous and unnecessary” profanity and reference to sexual acts, the West Central Tribune reports.

“Parents have the right to teach their own values to their children regarding these topics and have assurance that a classroom teacher would teach those same values,” parent Jessica Conlin said.

In a response to the newspaper yesterday, a district spokesperson said it “values and understands” parents’ role as decision-makers for their own households and works to “accommodate all family values while engaging learners” but that banning a book in the school is “separate from a parent making a decision for their own household” and requires a certain procedure under the district’s policy.

The district didn’t say “yes” to a book ban; it didn’t say “no”, either.

It told the parents to fill out a form to begin a review process by an advisory board of parents and educators.

Related: Authors Alexie and Walter on race, writing and how the Twin Cities ‘aren’t even twins’ (MPR News)