Penn. school district reverses book ban targeting POC authors

In a recent school board meeting, one member, Mike Wagner, noted that the book ban amounted to distrust of local teachers.

The school board of Central York in the state of Pennsylvania reversed its decision on Monday to ban books written by authors of color after protests from students, parents and teachers and a growing social media backlash. 

“We speak and listen to parents and community members to better understand and address concerns,” said board member Jodi Grothe prior to the vote, according to The York Dispatch. “We have heard you.”

A school board in Penn. has reversed its decision to ban books written by authors of color after protests from students, parents and teachers. (Photo: AdobeStock)

The school board reinstated the diversity resource list effective immediately after voting for the original ban in November 2020. 

Resources that were included in the ban included the Academy Award-nominated PBS documentary I Am Not Your Negro, exploring the writing of James Baldwin, and a coloring book for children that featured African Adinkra symbols. 

In a recent school board meeting, one member, Mike Wagner, noted that the ban amounted to distrust of teachers. “There were members on the board who did not trust the teachers to do their jobs — and, second, we did not trust the administration to do their jobs when it came to this list,” he said.

In the wake of the ban, a website was created to support the candidacy of four new school board members in this year’s election on Nov. 2.

“Welcome to Citizens for Central York School District,” it read. “We believe that our district deserves qualified, experienced leaders who are committed to serving our students, parents, and taxpayers — not special interests or political agendas. On November 2nd, we have an opportunity to elect four pillars of our community to the school board.”

Becky Riek, Amy Milsten, Joel Folkemer and Corey Thurman have shown a lifelong commitment to community and public service,” the site maintains. “As members of the school board, they will always put our interests first.”

The ban at the Central York School District came as conservatives began to push back against critical race theory, a higher-education philosophy that posits that race and America’s legacy of enslavement is central to social justice ills in this nation. 

Dozens of school districts around the nation have banned the teaching of critical race theory. Earlier this month, a Texas high school principal was suspended and accused of teaching the practice.

As previously reported, Dr. James Whitfield of Colleyville Heritage High School in the Dallas area shared in a Facebook post: “I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman. I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be.”

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