Israel’s War with Hamas AND Boyertown School Board Elections ...
by Lesley Misko
Wondering what these two things have to do with each other? I would like to explain.
Two nights ago on a major network newscast, I saw a 94-year-old man being interviewed. He spoke with an accent, but his English was good; in fact, the interviewer shared that the man had written a book. Obviously upset, his hands reflected his agitation and emphasized his words.
“I see this before. I see mothers holding children’s hands being taken away to the concentration camps where they were murdered. Little children. The Nazis murdered them all,” he said. “And now I turn on the tv and cannot believe what I see. I see it again. How can this be happening now? How can this be happening again?” he asked.
The man was a Jewish Holocaust survivor.
Indeed, how can this be happening again?
We have all heard the quote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
We learn from books and our experiences with books and from teachers who help us navigate and understand what is in books. Largely, education depends on well-written and honest books. But what happens if those books are taken away? What happens when a small group of people prevents others from learning with books that do not coincide with their own opinions about things?
Unfortunately, some school board candidates may not want Boyertown Area School District students to learn history or other things they need to learn to thrive personally and help make the world a better place. These candidates are affiliated with a group called “Moms for Liberty,” which is described as “seeking to undermine public education holistically and to divide communities,” according to Rachel Carroll Rivas, deputy director for research, reporting, and analysis at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Members of Moms for Liberty are linked to attempts at book bans and curriculum revision around America, including in area school districts like Pennridge, Central Bucks, and Perk Valley, among others. One source says that there are at least 27 counties in the state with active groups. An October 11 article in USA Today has the headline, “What's behind the national surge in book bans? A low-tech website tied to Moms for Liberty.”
Please don’t take my word for any of this. Do some research.
As Boyertown Area Senior High English Department chairperson for many years, I can verify that we had few attempts to ban books at Boyertown and we had an efficient and fair policy for addressing any parental concerns. The person wanting a book removed simply had to read the book in its entirety and complete a form answering several questions about the specific aspects of the book they found objectionable. Maybe this policy still exists.
In the process we learned that parents often based their request on insufficient information, for example, a sentence on the back cover of the book. We usually explained the value of the book and emphasized that students were not being sent off to read the book on their own; the teacher, a professional who is trained in a particular subject area, has a role in helping students understand the book and its importance. In the end, if the parent completed the process and still objected, we provided an alternate book for that child.
In the Boyertown Area School District, the intellectual freedoms to learn and analyze, evaluate, and create have never been diminished by a handful of people seeking to demand that an entire school district be subjected to their own personal values.
In addition to preserving books, curriculum, and intellectual freedom for students and educators, there are other areas of concern in this school board election. But if caring and diligent school board members are elected, those issues can hopefully be addressed in the best interests of students.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because there is another famous quote: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
Please join me. A handful of votes can make a difference in an "off year" school board election.
If you missed the articles about the candidates we support, please take a few moments to read about those in your region.
More News from Boyertown
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- February 21, 1904: Man Claiming Escape from Asylum for the Insane Waiting Admission to One To prevent disturbance, a man claiming to gave escaped from an asylum for the insane is housed in Berks County's jail waiting placement in an asylum.