Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Crutcher banned from making speech in Alabama

Thanks to Kelly Milner Halls for this information.

September 20, 2005

[Athens, Alabama] One week before banned author Chris Crutcher was scheduled to speak to students at Limestone County's Clements Junior & Senior High Schools, board members once again chose to censor his work -- this time a G-rated assembly about what it means to be a writer.

Media specialists Amy Mosely and Kelly Kelsoe who scheduled the event were quick to defend principal Donald Wilson who supported their desire to bring opportunity to the Clements student body, only after being offered assurances that Crutcher's school discussions contained no harsh language.

Though he could not be reached for comment, one anonymous source suggested the elected board members who banned WHALE TALK in March of 2005 insisted appointed Superintendent Dr. Barry Carroll pull the plug on Crutcher's appearance, effectively censoring what students read AND hear, regardless of content or context.

Dr. Carroll joined an appointed review committee in recommending WHALE TALK remain in Limestone County school libraries after it was challenged in the last school year. Four out of seven board members disagreed and ordered the book pulled.

Crutcher was not surprised. "When you think you can keep kids safe by keeping them ignorant," he said, "you'll go to almost any extremes. This isn't about Whale Talk; it's about any book that has the potential to offend someone, which is any book. I wish some of these school board members knew more about child and adolescent development, or had the information most teachers and school librarians are required to have before they are allowed a voice in education. I mean, kids who might die in Iraq in a few short years are being 'protected' from the language that has the power only to offend someone's sensibilities?"

Saturday, September 17, 2005

My Favorite Band Makes the News

Its about time Harry and the Potters got some recognition.

The DeGeorges spend most of their dates jamming in front of literary crowds at Borders and local libraries. Similar to any other up-and-coming musical act, however, Paul admitted that they sometimes have to take gigs wherever they're available. "We played at this place [in Portland, Oregon] called Voodoo Donut; it's a doughnut shop that opens at 10 at night and closes at 10 in the morning ... we went down there and said, 'Hey, we're in a band. Can we play, like, on top of your bathroom?' There was a kinda stage there with an organ and a PA system ... we had a show earlier in the evening at a bicycle store, and we just invited everyone over to the doughnut shop."

I personally love the idea of punk rock in a donut shop.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Good News Bad News

Lets start happy. Fayetteville schools will not have a restricted access shelf, meaning Laurie Taylor and her ilk will just have to rifle through their children's book bags every night (not that Taylor has any kids left in the school system). The board also reversed an earlier decision in Taylor's favor, and returned several books to the student shelves.

Now for the more local and sad news. Milan schools will no longer read The Chocolate War for 9th grade English. Even board members who found the book thought provoking seemed afraid to stand up for it, perhaps fearing their reelection campaigns would suffer as a result. Pathetic.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Prez needs potty break.. too much Kofi

Here's the picture.. its from Reuters, so I think its actually true!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Chocolate War: A Perennial Issue

I find it interesting that Robert Cormier's book, The Chocolate War even gets read for class assignments anymore, with the myriad issues parents seem to have with it. Certainly one parent in Milan has a great many problems with it, enough to demand that it be removed from classrooms.

I think I understand why this parent finds the book so wrong. It is one of those rare and dangerous novels for kids where the hero has to deal with bullying but doesn't get vindicated for his just stance: he gets humiliated and tormented, and nothing good seems to come from his actions. The power of such a book is that it forces students to confront the scary fact that doing something you feel is right sometimes doesn't work, and sometimes gets you in trouble.

Take Thomas for instance, over at Newsrack. He exercised his right to say what he felt in a demonstration, and nearly got hit with a felony count for wearing a hood at the "Freedom March".

The Chocolate War isn't didactic at all, and that's really why it comes back again at again as a novel that is useful for classroom work. Kids have to figure out the meaning for the story for themselves, they can't rely on the narrator to give them the answer to the problem of bullying.

But apparently the Mother in Milan is afraid children will think the wrong things:

"I feel so strongly that this book has a negative impact on all children, not just mine, that it needs to be removed from the curriculum,'' Anderson said. Profanity, references to masturbation, violence and the overall theme of the novel all make it inappropriate for young people, Anderson said. "The language in the book, and the situations, are in direct violation of the student handbook. ... I think it undermines the teachers' (ability to enforce the handbook rules,)'' Anderson said.

Direct violation of the student handbook? I hate to think what kind of ruckus she'll make when S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders gets passed out.

Fall means homework.. and dancing

I woke up this morning groggy from a very late night meeting with the dance group I'm a part of--we're in the process of brainstorming our future plans and aims for the organization. It was only supposed to run until 8pm, but I left around 10:40, which either means we're getting somewhere, or we're just spending too much time on nitty gritty.

But that's not the point-- the point is that I woke up and stared, with gummy eyes blinking and dry mouth open, at the streaks of yellow going through the soybean feild. Its been a very dry summer, and our plants have been bearing the brunt of it, but those soybeans turning made me realize that summer was on its way out, and soon I would be missing warm breezy days I never got a chance to enjoy.

Luckily, today I was doing a demonstration dance and passing out fliers on one of my university's campuses. This allowed me to a) share something I love with others and b) get some vitamin B. I work something slinky and cute for dancing, but after that I covered up enough to keep from getting torched. I looked a bit ridiculous in my straw hat and long sleeve linen shirt, but by the end of the afternoon a lot of people around me were looking a shade or two darker than pink.

Speaking of long hot summers, I hope everyone has given in some way to the Katrina relief effort. My mother recently raised almost $2,000 for the American Kennel Club Katrina Relief Fund.

You know, everytime I mention Katrina, I get bots so I'll just leave this one comment free.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How Dare They?

Everyone needs to read this personal account of the callous disregard for human life shown by National Guard Troops in New Orleans.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Snowball! Snowball!

I can't stop from tearing up about this story. It just rips me apart that they would take such a small dog from that child and then "lose" it. I am abolutely shocked that people can't take their pets with them. It is a complete failure on the part of FEMA and whoever else decided that dogs didn't count.

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Send money and stay put!"

That's the news from Mississippi, according to friends at work with family in MS. They also can't say enough good things about the local government's decisive and effective leadership. Many parts of MS are still without electricity and potable water, but more people without training or resources will just make life more difficult.

#$&$%%^ Bots!

Now only registered users can comment, due to bot attacks.

Updates On Katrina

Two articles that gave me food for thought (my titles just explain their relevance):

Head of FEMA: Stallion, or Ass?
FEMA gutted for the sake of Homeland Security

Wonkette and Co. has been keeping a close eye on White House shenanigans during the disaster, including Condi's shoe shopping and Rove and Bartlett's plan to blame Louisiana for everything.

I have been astonished and horrified as I am sure many have been, at the state of chaos in New Orleans. It seems that all of the beaurocrats left no one in charge when they deserted the city, and the federal and state officials never thought to ask the news media swarming the area for the use of their highly efficient and state of the art communications devices. The Federal government added insult to injury by trying to wrest control of relief efforts from the Governor, even after FEMA botched the job but good by actually turning away fuel and supplies that could have saved lives.

I also want to point out that many of the peope who are dying are diabetics, people with kidney and liver function issues.. basically anyone whose life is being extended with artificial means that require resources such as medicine and electricity. I'm not saying every death is like that, but it demonstrates just how delicate the situation is for the poor who suddenly don't have access to proper health care. The wealthy have already begun buying homes in Baton Rouge. The poor could end up in old army barracks or tent cities if they're lucky. If the government does not act swiftly, they could become a homeless mass that moves from shelter to shelter or worse yet jail.

White People are Resourceful, Black People Loot

The basis for the contention?

Thank you, Newsrack. :)

Book Burning: Alive and well in 2005

Here are several editorials on recent book banning/burning events:

Extinguishing Book Burners by Todd Peterson

The Freedom to Read by David Prather

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

The Wiki is amazing, but for a page with the best links to information, maps, photos and blogs about Katerina, go to the Middletown Thrall Library's Special Coverage page.

I check CNN.com way too much.

My family is donating to the Red Cross, I hope everyone sends a little something, because a million refugees is a lot of people.