Chicago Public Schools Say 7th Graders Can Only Read ‘Perseopolis’ With Literary Training Wheels
Perseopolis, one of my favorite movies of all time, is apparently not 7th-grade appropriate in book form, according to Chicago Public Schools. While the district is steering clear of the B word, they say that younger kids can only read this material on their campus with the equivalent of literary training wheels — i.e. “professional development guidelines.” Goodness forbid 13-year-olds read an autobiographical text about growing up in Iran and evaluate the work by themselves.
CBS Chicago reports that teachers received emails from the district asking them to not only remove the book from their campus, but also make sure copies had not been checked out by students at the library.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS Chief Executive Officer, denies that Perseopolis is being banned and or being removed from libraries. She maintains that due to the “graphic language” and “images,” they have considered the book no longer “appropriate for general use in the seventh grade curriculum.” However, Marjane Satrapis‘s story has been deemed appropriate for juniors and seniors as well as kids in advanced placement classes. “Guidelines” are being drafted:
“Due to the powerful images of torture in the book, I have asked our Office of Teaching & Learning to develop professional development guidelines, so that teachers can be trained to present this strong, but important content,” Byrd-Bennett wrote. “We are also considering whether the book should be included, after appropriate teacher training, in the curriculum of eighth through tenth grades. Once this curricular determination has been made, we will notify you.”
If the district decides that they want to temporarily remove Perseopolis from their curriculum or reevaluate the way the book is being taught, that’s one debate. But stripping the book from the libraries — so that kids can process such work without an adult yammering at them about what to think — is something else. Obviously the material isn’t so gruesome that they’re pulling the book altogether. So why not let those kids who do stray from the “appropriate” reading list have access to an influential and “important content”?