Last week, a school district in California did what a lot of other American schools have done over the years: they banned a book.
But this time, the book wasn't Heather Has Two Mommies, The Catcher in the Rye, or Are You There God, It's Me Margaret. Nope, the book that got the ax was none other than Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
The 9,000-student K-8 district this week pulled all copies of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary after an Oak Meadows Elementary School parent complained about a child stumbling across definitions for "oral sex."
It's true that nothing gets folks up in arms like the thought of kids encountering sexually charged material. And protecting kids from crass language is nothing new. (I remember when I was a kid, our neighbors wouldn't let their children see ET because one character calls another "penis breath.")
But I just wonder how any educator or educational administrator could have thought that allowing this to occur was a good idea?
Now, however, the district is backpedaling. After forming a committee made up of parents, teachers and administrators, it was decided that, yes, dictionaries do have a place in the classroom.
Nevertheless, the committee also decided that this place was not without limits. Betti Cadmus, a spokeswoman for the school district, explained children would have to return signed permission slips before they could once again freely look up new vocabulary words. As she said, "The dictionary will go back to the classroom but the parents will be given the option to determine if they want their kids to have access to that dictionary."
Before the dictionary ban, I'd hazard a guess that there were a few kids in the district who didn't know what oral sex was. I have a sneaky feeling that in light of this incident, that is no longer the case.
Has a book ever been banned at your school? If so, what was it?