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Texas Schools Ban Author for Book He Didn't Even Write

By jeannesager |

brown-bear-brown-bearMost parents love Bill Martin Jr. for the work he did with beloved children’s illustrator and author Eric Carle. But schools in Texas have decided Martin’s beloved tomes have to go.

Not because they’re naughty, but because Martin shares his name with another Bill Martin. The other guy just so happened to write a book (for adults) about Marxism.

And you all know what happens when you expose kids to a little socialism.

That’s right, they learn about another form of government! Of course, Bill Martin Jr. isn’t really trying to educate kids about much more than what brown bears see and the parts of the body. He even wrote an uber-American book if there ever is one: I Pledge Allegiance.

So what’s the problem? According to the Dallas Morning News, the Texas State Board of Education has stricken Martin’s books from the curriculum based on an assertion that he’d written books with “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.”

It was based on one member of the board’s cursory review of Martin’s name on Borders.com – which came up with the book by another Bill Martin, a professor at DePaul University, who penned Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation (Creative Marxism).

Neither the board member who found that notation,  nor the one who made the motion to strike Martin from the books to be studied in schools, actually read the Marxism book. Nor, apparently, did they bother to check whether they were written by the same man.

But isn’t that all this beside the point? There was never a chance the kids might read the book on Marx. Even setting aside whether that’s appropriate for kids (and really, folks, why not let kids learn about alternate viewpoints?), does an author’s ideas in one book totally discount the good his other books might do?

While Martin remained in children’s books throughout his career, there are hundreds of authors who dabble on both sides of the line. Some of their books for older audiences aren’t likely to make their way into a third grade classroom based on sheer age appropriateness. Just as thousands of companies who  make products for adults and children simultaneously wouldn’t call for you to put their older products side-by-side.

And just as you wouldn’t say “no” to a Jeep stroller simply because Jeep traditionally makes cars for grown-ups, what’s the sense in saying no to a children’s author simply because he might write books for adults?

Of course, in a world where we’re now banning dictionaries for daring to give definitions, it’s no wonder children’s books get kicked out for being guilty by association.

Image: amazon

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About jeannesager

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jeannesager

Jeanne Sager is a freelance writer and photographer living in upstate New York with her husband and daughter, Jillian. She maintains a blog of her award-winning columns at jeannesager.blogspot.com.

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20 thoughts on “Texas Schools Ban Author for Book He Didn't Even Write

  1. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Oh for F$#K’S sake!!! Why are people this stupid tasked with teaching children???

  2. Comstock says:

    The funny (sad, not ha ha) thing about this is that Pat Hardy, the Board Member who introduced this motion to ban Martin, is generally seen as a “moderate voice” on the Board. She recently defended her seat against a creationist loon. Hardy is the moderate, of course, because she favors teaching kids about “all theories” and letting them make up their minds, instead of only teaching biblical creationism. Religious conservatives truly are the enemies of thoughtfulness and knowledge. It is really a shame that voters give them such power.

  3. Manjari says:

    I don’t even have the words for how stupid this is.

  4. diera says:

    Well, the book does have a brown BEAR on the cover, and the bear is the personification of Russia! And at some point they see a RED bird, which clearly is a reference to the USA’s eagle and how they’re going to turn it communist! And… and… all those other weirdly colored animals must have been genetically engineered, which is against the laws of nature. So clearly this book is just flat out evil.

    This would be dumb even if they *were* the same Bill Martin. The fact that it’s two different guys (who could have predicted two people might bear such an unusual name as “Bill Martin”?) makes it the dumbest thing ever.

  5. [...] front of the school district, and with recent decisions by schools to pull books simply because an author of the same name wrote a book about socialism or to kick out dictionaries because kids were looking up naughty words, one has to wonder – is [...]

  6. Kobe Bean Bryant says:

    Democracy in action.

  7. patty says:

    oh come on get real! what is it about banning books especially books written for little kids that any moron can read and see there is no politics or propaganda in store for these little minds in the first place. it’s all about fun and entertainment for children. these parents complain all the time about not being able to get their kids to read,and they want to ban books they will just because of the guys name. besides if they learn how to read you can buy them books like animal farm and have more ops. as they grow up to enlighten them.

  8. Kat says:

    Does it ever amaze (and terrify anyone but me, just how uneducated our educators are? It has always been my belief that school should not ban books. However I do feel that some restrictions can be in place and yet maintain relative freedom. I won’t complain if I go to my daughter’s elementary school and see a lack of porn on the shelves, but maybe I’m funny that way. Though If she were to choose to read “banned” books when she is old enough I would applaud her so long as she did so for the right reasons. Again maybe I’m just funny that way…

  9. John Kelly says:

    Ms. Hardy didn’t have to read the book to know it should be banned. All she had to read was seven letters: “Marxism”. In fact, all she had to read was four letters: “Marx”. If it’s not Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, or Gummo, out it goes!

    This is what makes Texas the Athens of the Southwest.

  10. Hondo says:

    Comments

    Texas. Enough said.

  11. Mark says:

    Welcome to America, the land of the free, the brave and politically correct. The land that I love(d).

  12. Phil says:

    Comments
    Board members aren’t educators–most have no training in the field. They do, however, have the power to impose their will on men and women who are trained to teach.

  13. Hywel Thomas says:

    Yes Scunthorpe Borough Council had the same problem…

  14. Noel Griffith says:

    Comments what i love is that a book gets banned because the board did not do their homework!!

  15. mc2w says:

    Opinions? That differ from my own? WE MUST BAN THIS!

    I don’t see how an educational board can censor something just because they have differing opinions; but hey, if they’re in support of the communist idea of not allowing people to have free speech…

  16. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil says:

    Well, that WAS in Texas. What were you expecting? Intelligence and fairness? We laugh, but it’s the “Dumbing down of America” that’s the real winner.

    Maybe we should burn all the books and let the religious reich take over the world. Then no one will have to know anything, think for themselves, or ever have any doubts that the world is only 6,000 years old and is flat.

  17. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil says:

    Well, that WAS in Texas. What were you expecting? Intelligence and fairness? We laugh, but it’s the “Dumbing down of America” that’s the real winner.

    Maybe we should burn all the books and let the religious reich take over the world. Then no one will have to know anything, think for themselves, or ever have any doubts that the world is only 6,000 years old and is flat.

  18. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil says:

    Well, that WAS in Texas. What were you expecting? Intelligence and fairness? We laugh, but it’s the “Dumbing down of America” that’s the real winner.

    Maybe we should burn all the books and let the religious reich take over the world. Then no one will have to know anything, think for themselves, or ever have any doubts that the world is only 6,000 years old and is flat.

  19. [...] Texas Schools Ban Author for Book He Didn’t Even Write [...]

  20. deborah says:

    Comments
    Education is the tool by which you can know the difference between one thing or person and another.
    Man, Arne DUNCAN has a HUGE job in front of him.

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