Three bodies of administration responded to and made decisions in the 1992 censorship case of The Floatplane Notebooks: the Carroll County High School Administration, the Carroll County School Board, and the Textbook Review Committee.
The leading voice of the high school was Principal Harold Golding, who according to Goldwasser, first responded to the initial verbal complaints by asking her to call and talk to the concerned parties, which she did.1
As the case developed, Golding was primarily involved by serving as a liaison between the public, the school, and the local media. One Richmond Times article features a quotation from Golding where he calls the book’s language “‘offensive,'” and he attempts to answer the controversy by halting use of the book within the school.2
Outside the actions of the principal, Oliver McBride, the county superintendent during the time of the case, also played a large role in the progression of the case. As Goldwasser notes, McBride took a similar response to Golding and tried to address the controversy quickly by choosing to ban the book from the school system, a decision that was triggered after the novel’s challengers planned to hold a protest against the book at the high school.3 In a critical move, McBride’s decision to ban the book explicitly ignored the districts established policy for reviewing materials, although the decision did prevent the protest from happening at the school.4 In The Roanoke Times article “Book protest off but dispute isn’t,” Dellinger quotes McBride who stated, “‘The recent concern has raised our sensitivity that our families need to be made more aware that a process does exist for resolving these concerns. Further, its is recognized that our selection of materials continues to be conducted within the context of values which exist in our county.”‘5 McBride opinions and actions in the case all revolved around trying to de-escalate the case and emphasize, unobjectionable community values.
The Textbook Review Committee that was eventually formed to review the book is the last body of administration important in the Carroll County case. Although there are not many records that identify the specific committee members, the group played a significant role in finally resolving the parental complaints.
In “‘Floatplane Notebooks’ disapproved,” Dellinger identifies Ken Blevins as the head of the committee, and he reports on the committee’s ending recommendation to the school board that the book be limited to use in senior, college preparatory level English classes.6
The school board ultimately approved the recommendation of the committee.7
In these ways, the district and school administrators acted as policy enforcers and decision-makers in the case, which meant that they had a more direct ability to reinforce or rebel against patterns of censorship in the county, especially in the implementation of new long-lasting, and potentially far reaching, school procedures and policies.
- Goldwasser, M. M. Censorship: It Happened to Me in Southwest Virginia–It Could Happen to You. 1997. The English Journal, 86(2), 34. doi:10.2307/819671
- The Associated Press. “Evangelist seeks firing of teacher over use of book.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. 21 March 1992: 23. NewsBank. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news/0EB4F8CAC759E49F.
- (Goldwasser 1997, p. 37)
- (Goldwasser 1997, p. 37)
- Dellinger, P. Book protest off but dispute isn’t. The Roanoke Times, The (VA). 26 March 1992: p. A1. NewsBank. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-viewp=AWNB&docref=news/0EAEA289E6BAD9F0.
- Dellinger, P. “‘Floatplane Notebooks’ dissapointed.” Roanoke Times, The (VA). 30 May 1992: A3. NewsBank. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news/0EAEA2A79196C521.
- (Goldwasser 1997, p. 41)
Figure 1: Turner, T. Photo of Carroll County High School. 2019. Hillsville, VA.
Figure 2: Turner, T. Home of the Cavaliers. 2019. Hillsville, VA.