This week Cara and I have been working on actually creating and fleshing out our website.  As I was writing the page about other book challenges in the county, I started thinking that something didn’t line up.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini cover. From Wikimedia Commons.

In 2015, The Kite Runner was challenged at Reynolds High School for it’s use in an Honor’s English II class room. It was challenged for sexually explicit content, language,  low reading level, and mature themes. In fact, Lisa Baldwin, the parent who challenged the book, also took issue with the use of The Bluest Eye on her blog, though she did not directly challenge it. The Kite Runner was retained. What I find interesting is that The Bluest Eye was moved to an AP English IV class, even though, in my opinion, it has a very similar “appropriateness” level as The Kite Runner. Granted, I haven’t read the entirety of The Kite Runner, so my judgement is based off of the passage Baldwin cited and her descriptions of the rest of the book, but it seems odd that in the same county, two similar books, challenged for two similar reasons, ended up two different places.

So, now I’m wondering about the schools.

Though the final Kite Runner decision was made by the School Board, it was originally reviewed by a school level MTAC who also ruled  that it should remain in the classroom.  So I’m wondering why it was that these two schools came to different decisions on similar books.

But, then I was thinking about the decision that was made in The Bluest Eye case. While they did take it out of the Honors English III curriculum they did keep it in the AP English IV curriculum, And If I really think about it, this is, in a lot of ways, similar to the decision to keep The Kite Runner. So now my question is, what’s the real difference between Juniors and Seniors? Between Honor’s Students and AP Students? Is this challenge really about a parent not wanting any children to read this book, or just their kid? Did the MTAC for The Bluest Eye case have the hassle and bad media of The Kite Runner case in the back of their minds when they decided to put The Bluest Eye on the AP English IV list?

I’ve come up with a theory.

I would like to say, however, that this is a theory and I have no factual evidence or testimonials to support this, it is, instead, based on my limited understanding of how people think and behave and the experiences Dr. Dierking and Dr. Hajo have shared with us in class.

The Kite Runner case made big waves in the Buncombe county community. In response to the book being challenged and removed from the classroom, students created a book club around it, multiple news sources covered it through out Buncombe County, and it inspired the complaining parent to start a blog about Buncombe County Schools from the parent’s perspective. The challenge was appealed all the way to the school board level and there was a lot of potentially bad press for the school system.  I think that the MTAC decision in The Bluest Eye was made to quiet the parent without removing the book from the school curriculum.

In reality, there isn’t that significant of a maturity difference between a 16-year-old high school junior and a 17-year-old high school senior. So, why would the book be better suited in the AP Senior Class? I think in a lot of ways the reason for that change is that the complaining parent’s child would likely not have to read it in the future. Though the daughter could change her senior year to AP instead of Honors, it is unlikely that she will change to AP and take a teacher that chooses to use The Bluest Eye a year after this controversy. I think the whole point of this decision was to appease the parent enough that he didn’t appeal to the county level and give the school system more bad press.