Two reports this week show the United States is facing an unprecedented wave of school book banning — spurring Congress to hold a hearing Thursday focused on the issue, which free-speech advocates warn will undermine democracy.
PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for freedom of expression, found there have been 1,586 book bans in schools over the past nine months.
The bans targeted 1,145 unique books by more than 800 authors, and a plurality of the books — 41 percent — featured prominent characters who are people of color.
Thirty-three percent of the banned books, meanwhile, included LGBTQ themes, protagonists or strong secondary characters, and 22 percent “directly address issues of race and racism.”
Paige worked in corporate America for several years before deciding at the beginning of 2020 to switch to a career she found more meaningful.
When the pandemic hit a short time later, she second-guessed her decision, but the crisis also made her feel “more compelled to rise to the occasion.”
She completed virtual training. Paige — who spoke on the condition that only her middle name be used — started her first job as a teacher at an under-resourced Dallas-area middle school in January 2021.
The district was using a hybrid classroom model, blending remote and in-person instruction. Paige had the advantage of a previous career that prepared her for the technological headache. She felt she was able to build constructive relationships with her students, especially the roughly 30% who came to school in person.
Though her subject, reading, is a perennial testing priority, she was liberated from test pressure since states were given the option to waive the usual battery of exams that year. In hindsight, her first few months of teaching were “breezy and manageable” in comparison to what came after.
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