Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Diane Seuss opposed a Michigan school board's moves to restrict how teachers address race, racism, and other topics.
A conservative majority took control of the Brandywine Community Schools Board of Education following last November's local elections. The board created advisory boards in January to review what it calls "explicit material" in the school district's curriculum.
Many alums, teachers, former administrators, and community members oppose the school board's plans. That opposition now includes Seuss, who sent a letter to the board expressing her concerns.
"I urge the school board to think long and hard before turning Brandywine into a school system without freedom of thought and freedom of expression," Suess wrote. "You risk alienating hard-working professionals who are, in fact, experts in their fields. You risk shutting down the imaginations and intellectual adventurousness of the students."
Seuss is a 1974 graduate of Brandywine High School. She won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection "frank: sonnets" and taught English in Kalamazoo, Mich., for many years.
The school board has not publicly addressed Suess's letter. However, the newly formed advisory boards are slated to deliver reports at the board's next meeting, scheduled for April 24.
Local, state governments take on 'explicit material.'
Many school boards and some states across the country are taking new steps to remove or restrict what some say is explicit material from being used or taught in school.
Last year, Virginia approved legislation that requires schools to alert parents whenever "explicit material" is used in schools. Last month, Marion County, Fla. residents criticized its school board for not doing more to keep "obscene material" out of its schools.
The American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom said there were 729 challenges "729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021," the most recent period with available data.
"This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials," Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA's Intellectual Freedom office, said. "Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs."
Comment on this article to share your thoughts about Brandywine's and other school districts' moves to address "explicit material."
Follow me on NewsBreak for more book-related news, publishing industry updates, and more.