Censorship Toolkit: Page 1
CHOOSE A SECTION:
TIPS FOR RESPONDING TO CHALLENGES
SIMPLE SAMPLE LETTER TO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
(PRINCIPAL, SUPERINTENDENT, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS)
TYPES OF OBJECTIONS AGAINST BOOKS
MODEL COMPLAINT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
1. TIPS FOR RESPONDING TO CHALLENGES
For Teachers and School Officials
- Be prepared. Teachers and educators should be familiar with the school’s policies and procedures for dealing with book challenges and should be prepared to follow the procedures. (For the essential elements of a model complaint policy, see below.)
- Key messages about school curricula. If responding to a challenge, focus on three key points:
- School curricula reflect a spectrum of social and political views and experiences.
- School curricula are chosen by professional educators familiar with students’ educational needs and abilities.
- In many cases, parents’ concerns can be addressed by requesting an alternative assignment.
- Fielding complaints
- Encourage parents to raise any concerns they may have about their children’s education.
- Explain the three key points listed above.
- Be prepared to articulate the educational rationale for reading the book in question.
- Be prepared to discuss the school’s policies and procedures for challenging books, and provide forms or written instructions, if available.
- Let others know. Notify parents, students, colleagues, and other interested parties if a formal complaint process is initiated.
- Develop standard challenge procedures; contact NCAC via the “Report Censorship” form if you have questions.
For Parents and Students
- School Board meetings. You may have the opportunity to share your opinions in an “open forum” part of a school board meeting. Prepare your comments in advance in writing, and be clear and concise. Share personal stories, and be prepared to quote teachers, parents, or children about what the book has meant to them.
- Writing letters. Write a letter to the school principal, superintendent, and school board, urging them to follow a thorough review process to deal with a complaint, and to retain the book in the curriculum. Emphasize the importance of protecting the freedom to read and the educational value of the book as a whole. You may also want to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or contact your local radio station.
- Post on Social Media: Start a hashtag trend with the book title and mobilize support for it by posting messages about the book’s value. Facebook, Twitter and other interactive social media platforms are great ways to inform the public and attract support. Tag @ncacensorship for more likes and retweets!
- Organize! Create a local anti-censorship coalition. For tips on activism and organizing opposition to censorship, check out these resources from NCAC.
- Contact your publisher. Let them know where your book is being challenged, and on what grounds.
- Write letters. Write to the school principal, superintendent, and school board about your book. If possible, try to contact the challenger directly to discuss your book.
- Publish a statement against censorship. Post a statement on your website or blog, opposing censorship and alerting readers to the challenges against your book. Provide contact information for the school board, and encourage visitors to urge school officials to retain the book in the curriculum.
- Speak out against censorship. In libraries, schools, bookstores, and at conferences, share your experiences with others, and speak out in support of the freedom to read.