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UPDATED! CTU Statement regarding the Chicago Public Schools Sudden Ban of the Graphic Novel “Persepolis”

by CTU Communications   |  03/15/2013

CHICAGO –The Chicago Teachers Union released the following statements regarding today’s protests by educators and students of the school district’s sudden ban on the graphic novel Persepolis. Elementary school principals were ordered through email to remove all copies of the book from classrooms and libraries:

“We are surprised ‘Persepolis: A Story of Childhood’ would be banned by the Chicago Public School (CPS) system.  The only place we’ve heard of this book being banned is in Iran. We understand why the district would be afraid of a book like this-- at a time when they are closing schools--because it’s about questioning authority, class structures, racism and gender issues. There’s even a part in the book where they are talking about blocking access to education. So we can see why the school district would be alarmed about students learning about these principles.  There’s a lot of merit in Marjane Satrapj’s graphic novel. Not only is it thoughtful, it can be instructive for young people, especially girls. Persepolis can help our students begin to think about the world around them. We hope CPS has not reverted back to the 1950s,” said CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle.”

“We hope this is not a trend in Chicago’s failed school reform experiment. There are rumors that CPS wants to also ban ‘A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider’ by Ishmael Beah, and, that too, would be unfortunate. We stand with our educators who see this sudden book banning directive as an unnecessary overreaction,” added CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin.

***Updated**

“CPS is now claiming Persepolis is banned only from the 7th grade classroom but will be available in school libraries.  Unfortunately 160 elementary schools don’t have libraries—and they know that,” added CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin. “Enough with the Orwellian doublespeak. We support our educators who are fighting to ensure their students have access to ideas about democracy, freedom of speech and self-image.  Let’s not go backward in fear.”

Chicago Teachers Union