Most 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.
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