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Friday, March 15, 2013

Chicago Schools Banned Persepolis and All Hell, Predictably, Broke Loose

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Robot 6 reports that Marjane Satrapi's excellent memoir about growing up in Iran, Persepolis, has been banned from the curriculum in Chicago Public Schools. In response, teachers and parents are planning a protest that will start in about an hour.

Bleeding Cool published a letter Chicago Public Schools sent to schools in the Chicago area. Here's an excerpt:

Persepolis is included as a selection in the Literacy Content Framework for seventh grade. It was brought to our attention that it contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use in the seventh grade curriculum. If your seventh grade teachers have not yet taught this book, please ask them not to do so and to remove any copies of the book from their classrooms.

We have determined Persepolis may be appropriate for junior and senior students and those in Advance Placement classes. Due to the powerful images of torture in the book, I have asked our Office of Teaching & Learning to develop professional development guidelines, so that teachers can be trained to present this strong, but important content. We are also considering whether the book should be included, after appropriate teacher training, in the curriculum of eighth through tenth grades. Once this curricular determination has been made, we will notify you.

It's been a few years since I last read Persepolis, but I don't recall anything too outrageous in it. Satrapi's artwork is very intentionally simplistic; there's definitely no gore, although Iranian history is addressed fairly straightforwardly in the book. It's ironic in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way that a book about the effects of censorship and government control has been singled out by a public school board for censorship, while books like Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games are often taught to kids. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he'll "look into" this. Hopefully, he's swearing at somebody right now.


Comments (15) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
they've already semi-reversed it: it stays in libraries and classrooms, but isn't taught to 7th graders. Bet it's the drinking, smoking and fooling around that was the objection.…

Posted by Chicago Fan on March 15, 2013 at 12:32 PM · Report this
Now we know why all the wingnuts are so terrified of Sharia law - they're scared people will find out it's basically identical to their own wish list of what to ban.
Posted by Pope Buck I on March 15, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Is every book that isn't assigned/required as part of the curriculum "banned"? Aren't the vast majority of all books then "banned"?
Posted by Kiznit on March 15, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Mattini 4
Banned books lists are usually decent primers for finding a good book to read. In that sense, Persepolis is a nice addition.
Posted by Mattini on March 15, 2013 at 1:34 PM · Report this
chaseacross 5
We must protect our teenagers from powerful imagery!
Posted by chaseacross on March 15, 2013 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, must be at the forefront against the ban, since singling out individual books and the first amendment and blah, blah, blah were such a big part of his argument for
automated weapons and peoples rights.
Posted by BhamBrad on March 15, 2013 at 2:29 PM · Report this
rtm 7
I bought it for my son when he was in 6th grade. Terrible mistake. Now he's a sophomore, and thinks for himself.
Posted by rtm on March 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Headline is a little misleading.
Not including a book in teaching curriculum ≠ banned.
This does make me want to watch this though a little more.
Posted by dandan on March 15, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 9
One of my very favorite books. I am exited that it is used in curriculums, if not in Chicago. :/
Posted by ScienceNerd on March 15, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
venomlash 10
I'm trying to remember where in the book there were any scenes of torture...
Posted by venomlash on March 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 11
@3 - It seems fair to refer to books as "banned" if they were specifically removed from existing course study. I doubt that is true of the vast majority of books.
Posted by Free Lunch on March 15, 2013 at 8:11 PM · Report this
I like the exception for AP classes - "the smart kids can handle it, but keep it away from the proles." Because the AP kids didn't get smart from, y'know, reading challenging and tough work, right?
Posted by DonServo on March 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM · Report this
And Chicago kids, and their teachers, show they're smarter than the admin asshats:…

Posted by Chicago Fan on March 15, 2013 at 9:41 PM · Report this
Kat 14
There aren't scenes of torture, but she does talk (in a very round-about way) about the fact one of her parents' friends' daughters was raped before she was killed by the government. She also discusses sex and smoking, though the sex isn't shown in the graphics.
Posted by Kat on March 15, 2013 at 11:17 PM · Report this
Rotten666 15
Where the hell is the hunger games taught in schools?
Posted by Rotten666 on March 16, 2013 at 7:36 AM · Report this

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