Tuesday, January 26, 2010

School System Bans the Dictionary

In more book banning news, this time from southern California ...
Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

"It's just not age appropriate," said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

You can read more at The Press-Enterprise and the KCal9 web site.

I don't know about you, but I grew up in the day when looking up swear words in the dictionary was half the fun of getting to use the blasted thing. How else was I going to learn what all those words meant?


  1. When my mom taught, if a kid got tattled on for calling someone a name ("bitch" for example) she would take them to the library, grab the "big" dictionary and make them look up the word, copy it and the def. on a paper and threaten to have a parent sign it. She also used the word many times. "Would you call ME a bitch? I didn't think so." Needless to say it was an effective strategy.

  2. I have great memories of teachers stepping out of the classroom in 3rd or 4th grade and working together as a class to look up as many swear words as we could. Good teamwork excercise :)

  3. If you can't spell it, you can't find it to look it up - so it promotes spelling as well as dictionary skills.

    Plus, a lot of kids need to find out what those words actually mean - and most WON'T use them much once they find out what they mean! (Says a mom who always defined terms for her kids - even if they were very, very young.)

    *wants to hit school district over the head with the Merriam Webster dictionary*

  4. Tricia,

    Here’s another story for you from Think Progress, 1/26/2010

    Right-wing Texas Education Board accidentally bans popular children’s book author.

    Last week, ThinkProgress reported on the Texas Board of Education’s push to change the state’s social studies curriculum to marginalize progressives. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals that the latest to be nixed is actually popular children’s author Bill Martin Jr.:

    In its haste to sort out the
    state’s social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children’s author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.”

    Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr. who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, his friends said. The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago.