Efforts at Educational Censorship Attempt to Maintain Status Quo


Art by Rosangel Flores-Rubio

In recent weeks Iowa legislature have proposed a number of bills attempting to remove books from the curriculum of schools. Several school boards have begun removing controversial books from schools.

Isaac Bullwinkle and Frances Bottorff

Education censorship today is a symptom of a greater problem of status quo indoctrination

YES: 14   NO: 0

Promised in the ideals of American principles is freedom. This includes freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of information. We love boasting about our abundance of freedoms, available in America and nowhere else. These freedoms are currently under attack, a symptom of our country’s issue of always maintaining 

Now, in the contentious battle over education seen in Iowa and several other states, freedom is being attacked and struck down by conservatives touting themselves as the heroes saving American children from the obscene teachings of Critical Race Theory and teaching white children to hate their skin color, two things that are absolutely not taught in any schools in this country. Additionally, efforts to remove books about gender and sexuality from school libraries are being made right now, in Iowa and across the country. 

School districts in the central region of Iowa have started taking steps to review books and potentially remove them from libraries. West Des Moines, Indianola, Johnston, Waukee, Urbandale, Ankeny. These are places that are stripping students of their inherent right to educate themselves. Books like “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teen Speaks Out” have been reviewed by committees and are under evaluation to see if they should be taken off the shelves. Parents allege to be concerned that their children are being exposed to inappropriate topics, but this is just their excuse for going after novels with LGBTQIA+ themes. Their reasoning is rooted in homophobia. If the relationships depicted were heterosexual (as they are in several books that have never been questioned in school libraries), no one would be saying anything.

Senate Study Bill 3080 is not what Republicans claim it to be. Not only does it require the titles to all books being shared with students, but also all media items such as articles and videos with online links provided. What is most important to note is the flowchart the bill hopes to implement. Governor Kim Reynolds is calling for a flowchart to be made that shows the order in which parents can request books to be removed from the school library. The “transparency” they want so badly is an effort to extract diversity from schools and keep their children in a bubble  where everyone is white, straight, Christian, and cisgendered. 

However, this particular situation is simply a specific issue caused by a greater problem: By intentionally leaving out America’s countless evils, education in this country is and has always been designed to leave students as patriots and lovers of our country. Considering the amount of domestic and international injustices conveniently left out of school curriculums, why wouldn’t they?

Why are heinous acts committed by the United States so subtly avoided in our history classes? Why didn’t we learn about CIA-supported military coups in South America? Why didn’t we learn about Japanese internment camps during World War II? Why didn’t we learn about America’s imperialist motives for entering Vietnam and Iraq? Why are conservative lawmakers creating legislation that will prevent us from learning about America’s egregious problems of systemic racism?

The education system hyper-fixates on pieces of America’s history that paint us as the “good guys.” We make sure to spend ample time on topics in which we supposedly did the right thing, and little time on controversial issues where the US stance is more contentiously disputed. Our education is always coming from a Western perspective, leading to a one-sided and often heavily biased view of historical and current events, often in favor of whatever actions taken by the United States. 

Censorship legislation being pushed today is simply how our country is responding to the demand to implement issues of race and sexuality into education. It’s always the same sentiment: education in this country is biased towards whiteness, heterosexuality, and patriotism. 

We cannot afford to stand by and allow education in this country to continuously bias towards the status quo. Our teachers must include diverse topics into their curriculum however they can. Our administrators must resist censorship and encourage implementation of ideas that weren’t previously taught. As students, we must do everything we can to educate ourselves on the issues that those in power want to prevent us from being exposed to.