An almost year-long project by The Anniston Star and University of Alabama journalism students culminated with a report in Sunday’s Star. The article illustrates the reasons some books were challenged as well as the consideration given by school administrators.
We’d like to think each challenge is a teachable moment. As Teresa Offord, library media specialist at B.B. Comer High, told The Star, “I feel the most important things to consider when reviewing a book are: is the material appropriate for the age level, is the material well presented, (and) does the material support the curriculum of the school?”
However, amid the data, one number sticks out. Journalists reached out to the state’s 132 districts, asking each for copies of book challenge forms, information each is required to keep on file. Eighty-six districts responded. However, that leaves a glaring 46 that did not respond.
Said differently, almost one-third of Alabama public school districts ignored a request for information that by law must be available to the public. Nearby districts that failed to respond include Clay County, St. Clair County and Pell City. (For the record, the Calhoun County School District only responded within the past week after months of requests for the information.)
Whether intentional or not, those 46 districts send a disappointing message on following rules designed to ensure their accountability to the taxpayers.