Just when you think it can’t happen here: a text is being challenged by a group of conservative parents in Shelby, Michigan. The text in question is Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon , and the teacher is a recent GVSU graduate, Jane Glerum. The name sounded familiar to me, and I remember now that Jane and her class also used my online role-playing game Thoughtcrime a few years ago. Here’s a bit from a news article about the case:
Provocative’ book comes under fire in Shelby
By John Cavanagh
SHELBY — A book with “provocative” content used in the Shelby High School Advanced Placement English class has come under fire.
“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison has been used by the AP English class for three years, Superintendent Dana McGrew said. It is being evaluated by the Shelby curriculum committee.
“Basically, there’s a bunch of different things that some people object to it,” McGrew said.
The book is included in the library catalogs at Hesperia, Pentwater, and Mason County. The Shelby Area District Library also has the book in its catalog, but it had been checked out and had one person on the waiting list Monday. The book also is in the Shelby High School Library catalog. Hart Area District Library’s Web site did not show the book in its catalog.
According to McGrew, the book contains sexual, racial and violent content. The book is not required reading in the elective class, and McGrew did not know why people are objecting to it now.
“If they object to the book, they don’t have to read it,” McGrew said. “They can read a different one.”
This is not a case of a teacher picking a book out of the blue and discovering, too late, that the community objects to it. This Morrison has been recommended by the College Board as part of the Advanced Placement curriculum and is widely taught throughout the country. If you would like to sign your name in support of Jane Glerum and those who would retain the novel, please see the following petition.
Update 5-20-09: Last night, the Shelby school board voted 4-3 to reinstate the novel. More coverage here.