The freedom to speak, the freedom to listen, and the freedom to read are interpreted as rights of Americans under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. These freedoms are the hallmark of the American educational system, charged with instilling in tomorrow’s citizenry a broad spectrum of knowledge, an appreciation for diverse ideas, and the ability to think critically.
While the First Amendment protects individuals’ and groups’ rights to intellectual freedom, it also permits citizens the legal right to question the use of textbooks, library books, instructional materials, and teaching strategies in the public schools. Challenges have occurred in California's institutions. Materials have been restricted, altered, or banned from classroom and library usage.
While some local school districts have material selection and reconsideration policies that provide a foundation for fair review during selection or reexamination, many do not. Furthermore, even the presence of adopted policies does not prevent a challenge from occurring nor ameliorate emotional upheaval that may accompany a challenge. Censorship is unpredictable, but the possibility of it occurring is ever present.
Educators who teach reading and writing are often targets for challenges. They must be aware and accept that a censorship challenge could happen to them. Effective preparation, such as communicating with parents on curricular objectives and displaying instructional materials on a regular basis, may forestall a challenge in the future. Reading and writing teachers must know that organizations like the International Reading Association and the California Reading Association affirm the right to intellectual freedom for students and teachers through its position statements, committee structure, and program strands.
The California Reading Association recognizes that:
• The evaluation and selection of curriculum materials for reading-language arts in California involves a rigorous and careful examination at the state and district level.
• This substantive and open review is conducted by trained, knowledgeable educators committed to a final selection that will connect students to a diversity of ideas and experiences.
• Our schools must continue to provide a broad spectrum of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, and media that reflects our pluralistic society.
• The development of values depends not only on the sensitivity with which capable educators present instruction but is a shared responsibility with home, community, and religious institutions; and
• Freedom of choice must continue to be a prerogative in schools in a democratic society.
THEREFORE, the California Reading Association:
• upholds the right of free access to ideas;
• encourages educators to defend against all forms of censorship which attempt to limit this freedom;
• urges local councils to be proactive and promote intellectual freedom through their programs, committee structure, and community involvement
• respects and supports the judgment and the right of local school districts to select, with input and guidance from classroom teachers, those materials that best serve the needs of their students.
Adopted November 1993 Amended January 2003
CRA is proud to support the quality
American Literacy Corporation
$2000 "Outstanding Contributions to Literacy" award
$500 to CRA Council that nominates a winning K-8 educator
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