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accountability

Analysis: Bias in CCPS Media Centers

The following analysis was provided by Carroll County Public School teachers and parents.

CCPS must revisit the process in which books and media are selected for the media center shelves. In a cursory comparison of most challenged and banned books and books on the shelf at CCPS media centers, it appears there is either no thought given to the selection of student reading material or the controversial books and media are purposely sought out to stock the shelves at our local middle and high schools. The following are just some of the dreadful findings present on our CCPS media centers for our children to sign out and read. Out of the American Library Association’s (ALA) top 10 most challenged or banned books from public schools in 2020, CCPS has 9 of the 10 in their media centers. 

Name of bookChallenged or banned by:Reason for challenge or banNumber of copies in CCPS media centers
George by Alex Gino #1 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020Inappropriate sexual content, LGBTQ, conflicting religious content  2
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Kendi and Reynolds#2 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020
* Challenged in Somerset Co, MD
* Challenged in Austin, TX
Racism, CRT 33

13 copies at MVHS
Middle and HS’s
All American Boys by Reynolds and Kiely#3 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020
* Challenged in Somerset Co, MD
Profanity, drug use, alcoholism, anti-police views, divisive CRT topics.  15

6 copies at WMHS
Copies also at NCM
“Speak” by Laurie Halse#4 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020Political viewpoints, rape and profanity  15
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie #5 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020
* Removed from WA, MO, OR schools
Profanity, sexual references, sexual misconduct 10 copies
All in HS’s
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee#7 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020
* Banned or removed from 8 different schools
Racial slurs 5 book copies 
Plus video 
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck#8 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020

Banned in:
* Syracuse,
* Tell City, Indiana,
* Continental, Ohio
* Oil City, Pennsylvania 
* Grand Blanc, Michigan 
* Scottsboro, Alabama
* Banned in GA
Racial slurs, racial stereotypes 6 book copies
Plus video
Plus audio
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison#9 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020

Banned in
* Fairbanks Alaska
* Challenged in West Chester HS PA
* Banned in Morrisville HS PA
* Challenged in Florida and Massachusetts HS’s
* Challenged in Montgomery CO. MD
* Challenged or removed from 11 other schools
Sexually explicit, child sexual abuse 3 copies
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas#10 on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020
* Banned from TX schools
* Challenged in SC, Missouri, 
Anti-police, CRT message 18 copies
HS’s and MS’s

Why is CCPS choosing books and media that is on the challenged and banned list? 

Not only are these books present in CCPS media centers, but several schools have multiple copies of these titles, suggesting they were purchased for a student book club or class reading.  If so, who ran the book club?  Who funded these purchases?  Were the books approved as material for curriculum and instruction?  Was a book with an opposing viewpoint provided as part of the discussion?  Are book clubs on differing viewpoints offered?  

Other books banned from other schools in previous years, BUT still on the media shelves at CCPS:

Name of bookChallenged or banned by:Reason for challenge or banNumber of copies in CCPS media centers
A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley* Challenged and Censored in MD
* Banned in Missouri 
* Challenged in CA
* Banned in GA
Anti-family, anti-religion, language, promiscuous sex, 2
At WMHS
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellChallenged in MNBanned in ORBanned in VAChallenged in MNVile profanity, offensive language, sexually explicit,  13 copies
The Color Purple by Alice WalkerChallenged in numerous schools – numerous times. 
* CA – banned
* VA – banned
* MI – banned
* PA – banned
* WY – challenged
* CT – banned
* NC – banned
* Etc.
Racism, inappropriate language, violence, physical abuse, rape,  9 copies
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo White privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word 9 books
2 audios
White Fragility by Robin DiAngeloBanned in FL schoolsAdult content, Racism, BLM and CRT affiliation 6 copies 
Black Lives Matter by Martin Gitlin BLM, CRT affiliation2 copies
WMHS, CHS

The media centers are full of controversial books about sex, racism, violence and more. Many books have been challenged or banned in other school districts which should have raised a red flag and inspired further investigation prior to ordering the book for the CCPS media center. Many of the titles not only include adult level content, but also are suggested for adult readers, yet have been hand-selected by media specialists for kids as young as K thru 5.  Not only is this content inappropriate for the age level, but it shows the media specialist lacks professional judgement in the selection of materials for the school because the media specialist knowingly chose these adult level books for elementary-aged students.

Many books depict CRT tenets and promote the BLM organization. The CCPS BOE contends there is no CRT taught or promoted in the CCPS system. If this is true, the media centers need a thorough cleansing of many books depicting racism, anti-policing, white supremacy, and other CRT topics. Winters Mill High School seems to be the worse violator of these issues, having the highest number of controversial books and other media in their possession. One has to wonder if this was a directive given to expand the media in this direction. 

Name of bookReason for challenge or banNumber of copies in CCPS media centers
Ghost Boys by Jewell ParkerBLM, CRT affiliation13 at West Middle School
This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany JewellBLM, CRT affiliation2 Taneytown and Freedom Elementary
The New Jim Crow by Michelle AlexanderAdult content, CRT affiliation1 Taneytown Elementary
Just Mercy by Bryan StevensonAdult content, CRT affiliation1 Taneytown Elementary

A deeper analysis of the books that are present and notably missing shows a political bias.  CCPS media specialists should be the very ones upholding the promotion of intellectual freedom by selecting a variety of materials from a variety of viewpoints, not just books that reflect their own viewpoints or those of the selection sources they are using.  The following are examples of bias in the selection of materials by CCPS media specialists:

43% of all CCPS schools do not have a biography of President Donald Trump * Missing from 4 of 8 high schools: Century, Gateway, Liberty, Winters Mill
* Present in 6 out of 8 CCPS middle schools.  Missing from: East, West & Sykesville
* Missing from 11 of 23 CCPS elementary schools: Carroll Springs, Eldersburg, Freedom, Friendship Valley (not an individual book), Hampstead, Piney Ridge, Robert Moton, Runnymede, Sandymount, William Winchester (not an individual book), Winfield) 
100% of all CCPS schools have at least one biography of President Barack Obama and/or family members Almost all schools have more than 1 President Obama related biography or story, some schools have multiple including: ranging from 2-21 different titles
Multiple titles are politically bias or critical of a political side yet lack literature providing countering viewpoints.* Why Irrational Politics Appeals: understanding the allure of Trump
* Impeachment: Donald Trump and the history of presidents in peril
* We were 8 Years in Power: An American Tragedy
* Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump
* Nearly all titles mentioned in the earlier charts.

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