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Posts Tagged ‘Banned Books Week’

Public School Retracts Governor Palin Book Banning Lie, in Baby-Step Sort of Way

Posted by Adrienne Ross on October 22, 2009

By Adrienne Ross – http://www.motivationtruth.com

Last Friday, I posted “Update to Public School Library Propagates Falsehood that Governor Palin Banned Books.” I went step by step and day by day through my battle to correct the record and emphatically declare that Sarah Palin never, ever banned any books. At that point, I was turning it over to the public who had voiced a desire to step in and hold the school accountable. No longer was I going to stand between anyone and their efforts to see this wrong corrected, which I had done while I attempted to right this wrong.

I am not sure who, if anyone, actually contacted the school to voice their concerns. However, I do know that after fighting this battle since late September and receiving no responses at all last week, I received an email Monday afternoon from the high school principal asking me to call his assistant to set up yet another meeting.

We met yesterday, and I was asked again what I was seeking. I expressed that I had not changed my mind; I wanted the retraction. I was told that the library display window is seasonal, and something else is already occupying the space. I was also told that if Governor Palin were a current candidate, they would seek to correct the wrong. Since she’s not, basically it’s no big deal. I don’t know about you, but common sense tells me that most of us will never be candidates for anything. Does that mean people can lie about us without repercussions, simply because our names are not on a ballot? That makes no sense, and I expressed as much.

Finally, without a word, the principal went to his computer, began typing, and printed out a piece of paper with the retraction. He was going to run it by the superintendent, and if approved, it would be posted.

Today it was posted.

Perhaps I should feel a sense of victory, but I feel a gnawing annoyance. Why is that?

First, only the superintendent seemed to get the fact that displaying the original poster was the wrong move and that it should have come down the first time I asked. It was indeed a lie designed to express a political agenda at the expense of the truth that we should be providing our students. Even yesterday, when he asked to see the truthful articles that I had with me, the principal tried to defend the original display’s content.

Some kind of acknowledgement that this kind of thing was ill-willed, unacceptable, and would never happen again was in order–if for no other reason than in a school truth ought to count. Instead, I sensed a desire to simply shut me up somehow because it had become painfully clear that the issue was not going away. It was sort of a “Will this make you happy?” kind of move.

Second, he printed the retraction on a little piece of paper posted in the lower right-hand corner of the small library window–not the main display section where the incorrect information had been displayed. The paper can barely be spotted and is in front of some ghost cut-outs that had, I assume, been previously hung up. (This is part of the seasonal display?) There is no article posted, only a note at the bottom of the sheet that directs people to the library desk if they want to pick up an article about what the paper says: “SARAH PALIN NEVER BANNED BOOKS.” Of course, they’d have to first spot the paper before they can actually inquire about it.

I don’t like how it all unfolded. However, I know I should see the miniature retraction as some sort of small victory. While it is a pitiful attempt to rectify the situation, it does do something. If nothing else, I know I held people accountable to the truth, I looked out for our students’ best interest, and I defended Governor Palin, who deserves to be defended against malicious smears. The smears of the mainstream media and anklebiters are bad enough, but a public school is certainly a place where her record–and everyone else’s–ought to be safe from lies.

To Kill a Mockingbird, in my opinion, is the greatest piece of literature ever written, and I was reminded of this masterpiece today. I take some comfort in the words of Maudie Atkinson who tells Jem, after Atticus defends Tom Robinson in court, “And I said to myself, ‘it’s a step. It’s just a baby-step, but it’s step.'”

Below are pictures. The last one is the main window, where the original misinformation was posted, and where the truth ought to hang:

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Update to “Public School Library Propagates Falsehood that Governor Palin Banned Books”

Posted by Adrienne Ross on October 19, 2009

By Adrienne Ross – http://www.motivationtruth.com

On September 29th, I posted an article called “Public School Library Propagates Falsehood that Governor Palin Banned Books.” (See video at the end.)

To recap:

I was walking on my way to the weight room this evening when I stopped dead in my tracks after taking a few steps past the library. I backed up and took in the display in the window, which includes various books, quotes, and poetry about reading and book banning. Only one person’s picture is a part of the display–and that person is Governor Palin. It was included in an old article called “Sarah Palin, aspiring book banner?” which was published in the LA Times a year ago. That article makes up a homemade poster that says, “Sarah Palin + Banned Books = Censorship.”

Listen, I’m not talking about a local area library. I’m talking about a public school library, where they use this week to demonize Palin as the enemy of free thought, reading, and exploration. Nevermind the plethora of information out there that she never sought to ban books but had asked a general question of a librarian to discover how she would deal with censorship. Nevermind the numerous times Governor Palin has herself stated she never sought to ban books. And nevermind the fact that some of the books on the list, like Harry Potter, hadn’t even been published yet! No, facts aren’t important.

[…]

On the left and right of the display in the library window is the poem “Manifesto” by author, Ellen Hopkins. In the poem, Hopkins blasts “zealots, biggots, and false patriots,” for their desire to censor. This poem is the official poem of this year’s Banned Books Week–and Governor Palin’s picture is the centerpiece!

What gives them the right to place this attack in the library window? Who approved the display–or who overlooked it? Am I the only person who walked by and saw it? What impression does it give our children? What impact will this have on their vote in a few years? I am livid, as I should be. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior.

[…]

My approach tomorrow? I will go into the library with the facts and present them respectfully. I will ask that Governor Palin’s picture and the article be removed. If that is denied, I will request they hang another article next to it–which I will graciously provide–that refutes the falsehoods. If I do not get anywhere with the librarian, well, I’ll go to the next level. It is my hope that my talk with the librarian will suffice, but we’ll see what happens.

So what has happened? Many of you have contacted me to find out what became of the situation. Time has transpired, but please know that I haven’t been sitting around for the last couple weeks. I have actually been very much in the thick of things, battling this situation and standing up for the truth–the truth about Governor Palin, yes, but more importantly, truth for our kids who deserve as much in an educational setting.

So let me take you step by step through this situation.

Tuesday evening, September 29th:
I notice the display.

Wednesday morning, September 30th:
First thing in the morning, I enter the school library with articles that state the truth about the book banning accusation that surfaced during the 2008 campaign. I respectfully address the falsehood. The librarian acknowledges that Governor Palin never banned books, but states that she believes Palin wanted to ban books. Therefore, she feels justified in hanging a poster, which she admits she personally made, that links Governor Palin to banning books. She, too, is respectful, but she refuses to remove Governor Palin from the display. Even after over 20 minutes of conversation, she will not budge–only says she’ll do more research. During the conversation I suggest putting up, alongside her display, the articles that I have that state the facts.

Wednesday afternoon:
A co-worker comes to see me because the librarian emailed her a link to the blog I wrote about the display. (Apparently the librarian came upon it in her research.) We engage in conversation regarding the issue.

Wednesday, later in the afternoon:
I haven’t heard more from the librarian, and I seek out the principal. I ask him if we can have a meeting about the issue, and I fill him in briefly. I explain that Governor Palin’s picture was in the midst of a display with a poem calling out “bigots, zealots, and false patriots.” I also tell him the banned books lie was dealt with a year ago. He cuts me off, says a meeting isn’t necessary, and that he will take the display down “right now.” He tells me he has not seen the display. At this point, I think the falsehood is dealt with and all will be well–responsible action taken.

Wednesday, before the end of the day:
I receive an email from the principal stating he has seen the display, has talked to the librarian, and if I need to talk to him further, give him a call. At this point I realize he has not directed the librarian to remove Governor Palin from the display. I call his office, but he is in a meeting. I stop in to see him before I leave work, but he has left. I go by the library–and there the dishonest display remains. (How many students have been lied to by now?)

Thursday morning:
I drop by the principal’s office to talk to him. I spend about a half hour discussing the issue with him. I explain that I didn’t want to have to come to him, that I was hoping the librarian and I could have resolved it. He has a copy of the article that she posted and says she told him that because Governor Palin is “provocative,” she wanted to use her to draw the kids in. I explain that as an educational institution, it is absolutely necessary that we draw kids in with the truth, not lies that amount to defamation. I also say that the librarian has admitted that Governor Palin never banned books, yet is insisting on keeping the display up. I use the example that President Obama is also provocative and that there are many opinions of him, for example the birth certificate issue, but that to put up a display that said, “President Obama + No Birth Certificate = Illegal Alien” or something like that would not only be unfair to him, but it would be unfair to our students. I point out that this is clearly an attempt to demonize Governor Palin and to indoctrinate our students–and neither has a place in a school. He doesn’t say much throughout our conversation, just looks at me and allows me to speak. I reiterate that Governor Palin never, ever asked for books to be banned, and that it is on record that no books were ever banned from the Wasilla Library. I have the evidence with me. I mention also that at this point the display has been up too long, hundreds of students have seen it, and the responsible thing would now be to take down the display and post the truth. If we are going to be in the business of educating, it’s important to use facts–and when we mess up, just correct it. It’s that simple. As the meeting is winding down, he eventually says, “I will speak to her.” When I ask if he will ask her to remove the misinformation about Governor Palin from the display, he simply repeats, “I will speak to her.” When I ask, “Will you let me know the decision about the display?” he answers, “I will speak to her.” I then say, “Well then, I’ll follow up,” and I leave his office.

Thursday, after school ended and most staff had left:
I walk by the library to see if the display is as it has been. It is unchanged.

Friday morning:
I email the principal to state that the display was still up as of Thursday evening, and that since this is the last day of Banned Books Week, the responsible thing to do in our quest for teaching young adults the truth is to put up a display that states the fact that Governor Palin never banned books. I write that our children deserve as much and that it is our responsibility not to cause even one of them to be misled. I receive no response.

Friday, well after school had ended:
I walk by the library and see that the display is down. I pretty much expected this since Banned Books Week is over. Another display for Day of the Dead is up. I then decide to go to the Administrative Suite to see if the superintendent is still there. He is. I explain the situation to him–and he appears very supportive. He had not been aware of the situation and seems concerned that something of this nature would be displayed in our school. I express that it is not only flat out dishonest, but it is unfair to the students we are committed to educating. He is especially interested in the fact that the librarian has acknowledged that she knows Governor Palin never banned books. I state that the responsible thing to do now is to put the truth up, as we have displayed a lie to hundreds of students in the past week in an attempt to demonize one person and advance a political agenda. My point to him is this: if that wasn’t the motivation, why wouldn’t she put up someone’s picture who actually had banned books? I tell him that I want the truth to be displayed where the lie was for all our students to see, that this is the only responsible action. I state that the only thing that would keep someone from doing so is pride. He suggests that what I’m asking is reasonable but that he wants himself, the principal, librarian, and me to meet. I leave his office feeling good about the meeting and believing we will do the educationally responsible–and moral–thing.

Monday, October 5th:
At the end of the day, I email the superintendent about where things stand in terms of setting up a meeting about displaying the facts. I state that I would really like to get this out of the way.

Tuesday:
I pass the superintendent in the hall in the morning. He states that we will have a meeting and thanks me for the reminder email.

Wednesday and Thursday:
I receive emails from the principal and his secretary about meeting with him. These emails amount to: I state that we have already met privately and that I would like to have the meeting the superintendent and I discussed–with everyone present. I send emails to all involved stating again that I’d like to do the responsible thing and correct the wrong by displaying the truth for our students. I email my times of availability to meet during the day or after school. I receive an email from the principal’s secretary stating he can meet eight days later. I respond by stating that date is too far away and perhaps something will open up sooner. The principal emails that it is very difficult to arrange a meeting that fits everyone’s schedule and would let me know when something opens up. I send him a “thank you” email.

Friday:
At the end of the day, as I am co-teaching a class, I receive a phone call from the principal’s secretary stating the superintendent, principal, and librarian are waiting for me to attend the meeting. Apparently there was some miscommunication because I had never been notified that the meeting was arranged. I leave the class in the hands of the co-teacher and go to the meeting.

Meeting:
I am asked to share my concern again. The superintendent expresses his viewpoint, which is that this should have been taken care of when I first went to the librarian. In other words, the display should have simply been taken down, as I came respectfully and directly to the librarian. The librarian states that she wanted to draw the kids’ attention to Banned Books Week and Governor Palin could do that. When asked if it worked, she says that it did work, that many students came in to ask questions and to borrow books. There is a lot of discussion, which boils down to my stating that it is dangerous to use people and lies to shape the thinking of children. The superintendent voices his concern about the display and states that it should have come down, but says that he isn’t sure he wants to become like a newspaper and retract what was up. I maintain that as educators this is the right thing to do. After all, the librarian herself said that many students took note of the display and discussed it. I express again that using only one person’s picture–and someone who never banned even one book–to be the poster child of a display about “bigots, zealots, and false patriots” is unacceptable. I say that the librarian is entitled to think Governor Palin wanted to ban books, but she is not entitled to take that thought to the next level and present it as fact, which is exactly what a poster that says “Sarah Palin + Banned Books = Censorship” and an article about it does. I also state that if she thinks the governor wanted to ban books, then maybe she should wait until “People I Think Wanted to Ban Books Week” to put her in the midst of a display! When the superintendent asks the principal what he feels about the retraction display I am requesting, the principal doesn’t commit one way or the other, just states that he understands both sides. The superintendent hears from the librarian, who asks if I am requesting displaying the truth in my classroom. I say, “No, in the same place the misinformation was.” (Why would I put it in my classroom? I have nothing to retract, and the affected students aren’t in my classes, as I teach in the connected junior high school, not the high school.) She goes on to say that my addressing it to “the whole world” on my blog and Twitter page should suffice, and the library is her classroom. The superintendent states that what I write or do outside of school is not his concern but the school is. She says in no uncertain terms she doesn’t want the display I am proposing and that something else is already displayed in that space. I tell her that I understand that teachers like things in their rooms that represent them to a certain extent; however, this cannot come at the expense of providing our students with the truth. The meeting winds down and I am told that after I leave, the three of them will discuss the issue further and a decision will be made.

Monday, October 12th:
Columbus Day–no school.

Tuesday:
I email the superintendent and ask what decision he reached. I thank him for his attention to the matter. I don’t get a response.

Wednesday:
No response

Thursday, end of the day:
I email the superintendent again and state that, having not heard back from him, I will assume he has decided not to approve a display that will provide our students with the truth to correct the falsehood they have been given.

Friday, today:
No response

Surely it is clear that I went above and beyond to do things properly in this situation. I never wanted to go to anyone in the district but the librarian. I never wanted to go over her head. That is simply not my heart. However, I do believe that it is becoming more and more important for people to stand up for what’s right. In too many situations, like in New Jersey, students are being indoctrinated to almost reverence the president. The reverse of that seems to have taken place here, with a door being opened for students to despise Governor Palin. Neither is appropriate.

Even more upsetting than the demonization during Banned Books Week of one person who never banned books is the failure to act to correct it. It’s easy to take the back door approach, to say, “What can we learn from this?” and never re-educate those who were miseducated. It’s much more difficult–albeit responsible–to correct the misinformation. I have been teaching for fourteen years. I cannot say that I have done everything right all the time. No way. But I have at times had to humble myself before my students and apologize when I have done them wrong–and our students were done wrong here, as was Governor Palin.

To be clear, I wasn’t asking for a display that stated, “I lied! Sarah Palin never banned books. I made that up, purposely misinformed kids, and demonized someone to promote a political agenda.” I could have asked that because I believe the facts show that this is exactly what took place. However, all I was going to display was a poster that stated the fact that Sarah Palin never banned a book and an article with a few quotes. I told them I have the official word from the Town of Wasilla written on their own letterhead.

If we had simply done the right thing, the display would have been up and down by now. I believe that a person without an agenda would not have objected to correcting the display–for the sake of the students, if nothing else. But we’re not stupid. This was no honest mistake. And who pays the price for something like this? Our children do, of course. They get lied to, and their impression of a public figure gets tainted. Wasn’t that the point, though?

I have personally done all I can on my end to hold people accountable in this situation and to ask for assistance from those who have the power to provide it. As I told you when this first happened, I will let you–the concerned public–know how it turned out. I asked you to be patient and not to react before the wrong had a chance to be righted. You obliged, and I thank you. I wish I could tell you now that your patience amounted to the defamation and misinformation being corrected. All this time later, it has not.

I place no further demands on your patience.

UPDATE: Today the principal emailed me to ask that I set up an appointment with his secretary for another meeting. Meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday at 3:00 p.m.

Thanks to Sheya, below is an interview I did on the Eddie Burke Radio Show. At 2:19 in, you will see pictures of the display.

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Public School Library Propagates Falsehood That Governor Palin Banned Books

Posted by Adrienne Ross on September 29, 2009

By Adrienne Ross – http://www.motivationtruth.com

How ironic it is that when news emerges of Governor Palin’s book becoming available prior to its expected date, she shows up in my school’s library. No, she didn’t show up in person and no, there was no announcement to inform interested students about her book, which reportedly is already number one on the Barnes and Noble list.

She showed up in the center of a display highlighting Banned Books Week.

I was walking on my way to the weight room this evening when I stopped dead in my tracks after taking a few steps past the library. I backed up and took in the display in the window, which includes various books, quotes, and poetry about reading and book banning. Only one person’s picture is a part of the display–and that person is Governor Palin. It was included in an old article called “Sarah Palin, aspiring book banner?” which was published in the LA Times a year ago. That article makes up a homemade poster that says, “Sarah Palin + Banned Books = Censorship.”

Listen, I’m not talking about a local area library. I’m talking about a public school library, where they use this week to demonize Palin as the enemy of free thought, reading, and exploration. Nevermind the plethora of information out there that she never sought to ban books but had asked a general question of a librarian to discover how she would deal with censorship. Nevermind the numerous times Governor Palin has herself stated she never sought to ban books. And nevermind the fact that some of the books on the list, like Harry Potter, hadn’t even been published yet! No, facts aren’t important.

What’s important is the growing determination to further a Left-wing agenda to destroy Governor Palin. What’s important is the attempt to indoctrinate our children. I say indoctrinate because that is exactly what this is. As if it weren’t bad enough that some schools are singing the “Mmm Mmm Mmm” praises of President Obama, chanting “Change Has Come,” and changing the “Jesus” in the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to include Obama, now I walk past the high school library in the district where I teach, and there are falsehoods about the former vice presidential candidate. There is a clear attempt to lead our children down a particular road, and somebody has to be the road block. That somebody will be me…tomorrow when I walk back in that building and address this issue.

That article in the school library window states in part:

Librarian Jessamyn West, who blogs at librarian.net, writes, “Usually I’m just happy to see libraries even mentioned in national level politics, but not like this.”

This seems like a good time to mention Banned Books Week, beginning Sept. 27, which celebrates the freedom to read. 2007’s most challenged book was “And Tango Makes Three,” a children’s book about a penguin with two dads; books by Mark Twain and Alice Walker appear, again, on the list. Exactly what books Palin might have wanted to ban have not been identified (other than some unsupported rumors), but it’s safe to assume that she won’t be joining in to celebrate the idea that no books should be banned at all.

I find it interesting that this particular article states that those books weren’t identified. Another falsehood. Perhaps they left that out because the truth was embarrassing. Yes, it’s embarrassing to list books that didn’t exist when she supposedly tried to rid the world of them.

On the left and right of the display in the library window is the poem “Manifesto” by author, Ellen Hopkins. In the poem, Hopkins blasts “zealots, biggots, and false patriots,” for their desire to censor. This poem is the official poem of this year’s Banned Books Week–and Governor Palin’s picture is the centerpiece!

What gives them the right to place this attack in the library window? Who approved the display–or who overlooked it? Am I the only person who walked by and saw it? What impression does it give our children? What impact will this have on their vote in a few years? I am livid, as I should be. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior.

Anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock in the past year ought to know the truth about the book banning issue, but in case someone has just slithered out, here are some facts about Palin and the so-called book banning issue.

In an article called “Palin did not ban books in Wasilla as mayor,” the USA Today reported

Taylor Griffin, a McCain spokesman, said Palin raised the issue of the library’s policy because there had been widespread discussion in Wasilla at that time about banning books. She was trying to understand the city’s policy, he said.

“Sarah Palin has never asked anyone to ban a book,” Griffin said. “It shouldn’t be surprising that the new mayor of a city that had seen recent protests over books and was in the process of re-evaluating the book-challenge policies at its library would ask the librarian what those policies were.”

Michelle Malkin submitted in “The bogus Sarah Palin Banned Books List” this P.D.S. Alert:

Palin Derangement Syndrome strikes again. This time it’s hysterical librarians and their readers on the Internet disseminating a bogus list of books Gov. Sarah Palin supposedly banned in 1996. Looks like some of these library people failed reading comprehension. Take a look at the list below and you’ll find books Gov. Palin supposedly tried to ban…that hadn’t even been published yet. Example: The Harry Potter books, the first of which wasn’t published until 1998.

The smear merchants who continue to circulate the list also failed to do a simple Google search, which would have showed them that the bogus Sarah Palin Banned Book List is almost an exact copy-and-paste reproduction of a generic list of “Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States” that has been floating around the Internet for years. STACLU notes that the official Obama campaign website is also perpetuating the fraud. And it’s spread to craigslist, where some unhinged user is posting images likening Palin to Hitler. Here it is again.

[…]

It’s a fake. Not true. Total B.S. A lie.

If it gets sent to you by a moonbat friend or family member, set ‘em all straight. Fight the smears. They’ve only just begun.

Malkin hit the nail on the head. They had only just begun last year, and they still exist–in our public school libraries, of all places. Read her entire article here, which includes the bogus list of books.

FactCheck.org reported:

She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a “What if?” question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin’s first term.

[…]

One accusation claims then-Mayor Palin threatened to fire Wasilla’s librarian for refusing to ban books from the town library. Some versions of the rumor come complete with a list of the books that Palin allegedly attempted to ban. Actually, Palin never asked that books be banned; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren’t even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication.

I could go on and on, but it’s not necessary. As stated, anyone who cared to know, who actually did a little fact checking of their own, already got the 411 on the deal. However, I am addressing it again because obviously some who are supposed to be in the business of educating, have not been informed or are ignoring the information, and their ignorance is impacting–shall I say infecting–our children. This cannot go unchallenged–and it won’t.

My approach tomorrow? I will go into the library with the facts and present them respectfully. I will ask that Governor Palin’s picture and the article be removed. If that is denied, I will request they hang another article next to it–which I will graciously provide–that refutes the falsehoods. If I do not get anywhere with the librarian, well, I’ll go to the next level. It is my hope that my talk with the librarian will suffice, but we’ll see what happens.

No doubt as Governor Palin’s book continues to sell, even before it hits the shelves, those with an agenda will beef up their attacks to misrepresent her as uninformed, anti-intellectual, and unworthy of paying attention to. I have some serious problems with that, but as a teacher, my main problem is that their misrepresentation hurts our children. So let the truth be told.

Below are pictures of the high school library display.





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