Often, parents who support free expression do not step forward to the same extent as those seeking to remove materials, leaving school officials and teachers relatively isolated. It is then their task to carefully assess the pedagogical value of the materials, to avoid simply giving in to angry demands that could undermine educational objectives and invite additional challenges in the future. The objection usually comes up when the material concerns sexuality, reflecting a fear that exposure to this subject undermines moral or religious values.
Since many non-objecting parents support informing even young children about sexual matters, it is clear that the content of the material as much as the age of the child lies at the heart of the objection. Acceding to pressure to censor in this situation can be tantamount to endorsing one moral or religious view over another.
Education proceeds in stages, with increasingly complex material presented as students gain the intellectual ability and knowledge to understand and process it. For this reason, young children usually do not learn physics or read Shakespeare. Similarly, educators may decide that detailed scientific information about human reproduction might not be age-appropriate for six-year-olds, but would be appropriate for year-olds who have been introduced to basic biology. She observes, however, that the rationale for psychological descriptions of the age at which certain behaviors generally occur has limited relevance to the selection of educational materials and literature in the classroom.
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Indeed, for such adults a pristine vision of youth often forms a wall between themselves and any adolescents they happen to know. That likelihood is lessened by the exposure the typical student has had to the controversial subject. The books targeted by censors included both popular and classic titles, affecting almost every age group. According to the ALA , the most frequently challenged books in included:.
Most districts see a role for parents and other community members in this process. While curriculum development relies heavily on the professional expertise of trained educators, it is also controlled by state law and policy. School officials also have the constitutional duty to ensure that curriculum development and selection decisions are not made with the aim of advancing any particular ideological, political or religious viewpoint. Many professional educational organizations and individual school systems have articulated the principles that should ideally govern selection and retention of materials; they uniformly emphasize reliance on the expertise of professional educators in developing materials that will best serve the needs of students.
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NEA Resolutions state that. Many school districts adopt formal policies and procedures for responding to complaints about materials—and for good reason. When materials are challenged, schools with well-articulated processes for handling complaints and reviews are more likely to resist censorship pressures than districts that lack such guidelines. Having policies in place and following them scrupulously ensures that complainants will receive due process, and that challenged materials will be judged on their educational merits rather than personal opinion.
It is important for teachers and administrators to be familiar with these policies and understand their significant function. Armed with knowledge of these policies, schools officials are less likely to submit to pressure or react with unilateral decisions to remove books. Different school systems implement complaint procedures in different ways, but most provide that:. Disagreement with a specific idea or message — and personal objections to materials on religious, political or social grounds — are the most common grounds for challenges and the most suspect.
But such personal viewpoint-based concerns, standing alone, rarely justify removal of material, and may raise First Amendment issues. A committee — often composed of instructional staff, library staff, and administrators, and sometimes including students and parents — ordinarily processes complaints.
Its decision should only be reversed for compelling educational reasons. Materials should never be removed unless the complaint procedures are followed, and materials should never be removed prior to completion of the complaint process. They also protect educators in their exercise of professional judgment, and help insulate them and the school district from legal challenges and community pressure.
Many national and international organizations concerned with elementary and secondary education have established guidelines on censorship issues. While each organization addresses censorship a little differently, each is committed to free speech and recognizes the dangers and hardships imposed by censorship.
The organizations couple their concern for free speech with a concern for balancing the rights of students, teachers and parents. Many place heavy emphasis on the importance of establishing policies for selecting classroom materials and procedures for addressing complaints.
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The following summarizes the censorship and material selection policies adopted by leading educational organizations. Its 2. Elected representatives from across the country are responsible for setting policy, which includes resolutions on selecting and developing education materials and teaching techniques. A 80,member organization devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts, the NCTE offers support, advice, and resources to teachers and schools faced with challenges to teaching materials or methods.
The NCTE has developed a Statement on Censorship and Professional Guidelines recognizing that English and language arts teachers face daily decisions about teaching materials and methods.
The IRA has 90, members worldwide, working in a variety of educational capacities. Its goal is to promote high levels of literacy by improving the quality of reading instruction and encouraging reading as a lifetime habit. Their mutual policy sets out four principles aimed at translating the ideals of the First Amendment into classroom reality: 1 to actively support intellectual freedom; 2 to foster democratic values, critical thinking and open inquiry; 3 to prepare for challenges with clearly defined procedures; and 4 to ensure educational communities are free to select and review classroom curricula to meet student needs.
The ASCD is an international organization of professional educators committed to excellence in education. When challenges arise, school officials should bear in mind that education is governed by the public. At the same time, educators should insist that, as in other fields, professional judgment must not be completely subservient to the popular will. The ASCD stresses the importance of establishing complaint procedures and affirms that materials are never to be restricted for the purpose of suppressing ideas. We believe that ideas and information topple the walls of hate and fear and build bridges of cooperation and understanding far more effectively than weapons and armies.
Founded in , NCAC is an alliance of over 50 national non-profit organizations—including literary, artistic, religious, educational, professional, labor, and civil liberties group—united in their support of freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression. NCAC works with teachers, educators, writers, artists, and others around the country dealing with censorship debates in their own communities; it educates its members and the public at large about the dangers of censorship and how to oppose them; and it advances policies that promote and protect freedom of expression and democratic values.
Efforts to remove books and other materials from the classroom, curriculum, and school library represent one of the most significant forms of censorship in the United States. Sometimes these efforts are initiated by a parent or other member of a community; sometimes organizations campaign to change educational norms and practices to reflect their particular views and perspectives.
Local school boards generally have the authority to prescribe the curriculum, within state-approved guidelines. Kuhlmeier and Bethel School District v. Fraser grant administrators considerable discretion in deciding what is educationally suitable. For example, lower courts upheld action against one teacher for permitting violations of school policy against profanity in teaching creative writing Lacks v. Ferguson Reorganized School District 8th Cir. Buncombe County Board of Education 4th Cir. However, courts defer to administrators and educators equally when their decisions promote, rather than suppress, speech — as when schools administrators elect to include controversial materials in the curriculum Monteiro v.
Tempe Union High School 9th Cir. The outcome of censorship cases often depends on the factual context, how competing interests are balanced, and in some cases motive. As a result, decisions vary widely, and the same action can be upheld in one district and struck down in the next. This can be confusing, but a few rules of thumb are available:. Policies and practices designed to respect free expression and encourage discourse and discussion are rarely, if ever, disturbed by courts.
They may be challenged by students or parents who are offended by certain books or other materials with racial or ethnic content e. Tempe Union School District 9th Cir. Bedford Central School District 2d Cir.
However, it is rare that a court will order educators to remove materials that have legitimate educational purposes, even if they cause offense to some. Conversely, leaving it late to agree dates for meetings will almost certainly inconvenience people, which is a major source of upset. Generally try to consult to get agreement of best meeting dates for everyone, but ultimately you will often need to be firm.
Use the 'inertia method', i. Times to start and finish depend on the type and duration of the meeting and the attendees' availability, but generally try to start early, or finish at the end of the working day. Two-hour meetings in the middle of the day waste a lot of time in travel. Breakfast meetings are a good idea in certain cultures, but can be too demanding in more relaxed environments. If attendees have long distances to travel i.
If the majority have to stay overnight it's often worth getting the remainder to do so as well because the team building benefits from evening socialising are considerable, and well worth the cost of a hotel room. Overnight accommodation the night before also allows for a much earlier start. By the same token, consider people's travelling times after the meeting, and don't be unreasonable - again offer overnight accommodation if warranted - it will allow a later finish, and generally keep people happier.
As with other aspects of the meeting arrangements, if in doubt always ask people what they prefer. Why guess when you can find out what people actually want, especially if the team is mature and prefers to be consulted anyway. Many meetings are relatively informal, held in meeting rooms 'on-site' and do not warrant extensive planning of the venue as such.
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On the other hand, big important meetings held off-site at unfamiliar venues very definitely require a lot of careful planning of the venue layout and facilities. Plan the venue according to the situation - leave nothing to chance. Venue choice is critical for certain sensitive meetings, but far less so for routine, in-house gatherings.
Whatever, there are certain preparations that are essential, and never leave it all to the hotel conference organiser or your own facilities department unless you trust them implicitly. Other people will do their best but they're not you, and they can't know exactly what you want. You must ensure the room is right - mainly, that it is big enough with all relevant equipment and services.
It's too late to start hunting for a 20ft power extension lead five minutes before the meeting starts. All of the above can and will go wrong unless you check and confirm - when you book the venue and then again a few days before the meeting. For a big important meeting, you should also arrive an hour early to check everything is as you want it.