WEATHER WATCH
Central York students rallying against banned books, documentaries dealing with race
Central York School District board members are facing backlash after a list of banned resources, primarily by Black and Latino authors, was passed out to faculty at the middle school and high school.

Central York School District board members are facing backlash after a list of banned resources, primarily by Black and Latino authors, was passed out to faculty at the middle school and high school.

The list includes books, it’s documentaries, articles. Some of the subjects and authors are Rosa Parks, Malala and James Baldwin.

“Banning a particular group of people is not ok, it sends the wrong message,” said Christina Ellis, senior at Central York High School.

Every morning before school starts the Panther Anti-Racist Union hits the picket lines.

“We’re protesting to reverse the ban,” said Ellis. “We’re saying that we need diversity in our education.”

In November of 2020 the school board at Central York voted in support of a resource ban. The diversity resource list as the school board called it was banned across the district by a unanimous vote.

The majority of the resources discuss Black history and racism -- PBS documentaries, a coloring book of African symbols, “The New Jim Crowe.” The list even includes an episode of Sesame Street.

“I am a BIPOC voice in this district, being here since I was in preschool, I would like to think that my voice is valued and heard,” said Edha Gupta. “It was quite a disappointment when I heard that it wasn’t.”

The materials on the list are not a part of curriculum. These materials were not required teaching in any form.

“A resource is anything I would use for any student that would come to me, or myself as an educator, to better myself to learn more about a topic that I’m teaching,” said advisor of the Panther Anti-Racist Union Ben Hodge. “Those resources are not necessarily in the day to day goings of curriculum.”

A few of the students in the Anti-Racist Union met with the school board about their concerns over the list. The students tell me the board members say these materials could have a polarizing effect on students.

“These books are very educational and are only disseminating knowledge that is going to lead to the betterment and encouragement and loving environment between students at the schools,” Gupta said.

The students will protest every day until the school board meeting on Monday night. Ideally, they say the hope the ban is overturned.

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Jane Johnson issued this statement on behalf of the Central York Board of School Directors:

With respect to the “Diversity Committee Summer Meeting Resource List” (List) from summer 2020, a significant portion of our District's parents raised concerns with certain of the materials included on the List. These concerns were based on the content of the resources, not the author or topic. On November 9, 2020 the then-Board unanimously approved a decision to freeze the use of these resources pending restoration of the Board curriculum-oversight mechanism. One solution to this oversight was creation of a Curriculum Committee. Additionally, upon the incumbent Superintendent’s retirement announcement, the Board felt the new Superintendent should also be part of this important discussion. We will soon have both a newly formed Curriculum Committee and a new Superintendent to engage in this discussion.

The Board embraces diversity in its many forms, including diversity of thought. We have always welcomed myriad quality diversity materials embracing differences and fostering equality, tolerance, inclusiveness, communication and kindness. However, many District parents have expressed concern that certain resources on this particular list foster the opposite by promoting unequal treatment of individuals on immutable characteristics. They believe that rather than uniting on diversity, certain resources polarize and divide on diversity and are based on disputed theories and facts. The Board believes that the fundamental purpose of school is that of core academics, objective education without indoctrination from any political or social agenda, and we look forward to the forthcoming review of the List and bringing balance to our classrooms.

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