Book list leads to controversy in Columbia County

Friday, October 25, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Columbia County schools are getting a lot of attention because of three books.

The three books: "Dear Martin", "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” and "Regeneration" were not approved.

Each school year, the Novel Committee submits a list of supplemental novels choices recommended for the high schools. The list is reviewed by Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway. Approved books are then voted on by the school board.

The debate has gained national attention and even has the author of "Dear Martin" planning a trip to Columbia County.

Columbia County Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway says she did not approve the books because of vulgar language and profanity, but she was not expecting the response that she received.

"It turned into a firestorm," Dr. Carraway said. "If you read those things you'll see that that could be things parents could go, hmm, I'd rather my child didn't read those things at school. If I want to deal with that, that's something we could talk about as a family."

The decision caught the attention of the National Coalition against Censorship. They sent the district a letter stating the decision "invite(s) viewpoint discrimination".

To read the letter sent to the district, click here.

The decision also has some parents outraged. One parent, Tara Wood, delivered copies of "Dear Martin" to students.

"It was not our intent at all to disparage authors or even these books," Dr. Carraway said. "These books have value. The question is were they appropriate to use in classrooms every day with children."

Augusta University Professor Andrew Kemp argues they are necessary to use in the classroom.

"Schools are one of the safest places where you can be to have critical conversations," Professor Kemp said.

Kemp says removing the books takes away critical thinking.

"These issues are in our society," Professor Kemp said. "There are issues of systemic racism, bigotry, homophobia and in public people don't talk about them. However, in a school, you have a controlled situation. You can control the conversation that will allow students to feel free to talk about issues that are important to them."

Dr. Carraway says the books are not banned. Students can check them out at the school library and read them in their free time.