Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dear Ellen,

         Censorship in public schools is getting out of control and we need your help. My name is Ashley Lawless. My friends, Alivia Carter, Lauren Himmelberg, Weston Moore, Kaity, and I are writing you this letter because of recent events that are happening in our area. We live in Republic, Missouri and are seniors at Republic High School.
         There is a problem that has caught the attention of some well known authors, including Judy Blume and Laurie Halse Anderson, and we want to bring it to the attention of you and the public. It was also a trending topic on twitter (#speakloudly) for over 18 hours. Students, teachers, parents, and authors around the United States have heard about this and have had an opinion (usually on our side). We just thought we should inform you on the situation (not to be confused with Mike "The Situation" from Jersey Shore) that is happening in our community.
         The problem we are talking about is censorship. We are trying to fight censorship in our high school. A professor, Dr. Wesley Scroggins, at a local University wrote an opinion article (http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20109180307) and sent it to the local paper about three books that are being taught at our school. According to him, these books, “Speak;” “20 Boy Summer;” and the popular post-modern war novel, “Slaughter-House Five,” have content that is not appropriate for high school students. His main argument is that they promote “un Christian-like values” such as sex, drinking, and foul language. Our problem is not that Dr. Scroggins stated his opinion, but the fact that our school district is considering banning these books.
         Having read two of the three books in question, we know that he has taken things out of context. We, along with many of the students at our school, are very upset that the district is trying to tell us what is “appropriate” for us to read based on one man’s opinion.
         You may be wondering why we are writing this letter. We just want to inform you and everybody else on serious problems that are happening in small communities all over. We want to spread the word. We don’t want this to happen to other schools and deprive other students’ educations.
         We are specifically writing to you because we know that you care about you fans and just people in general. We know that you will listen to us and our voices will be heard, even though we are just seniors in high school. We just hope that you will take a look at this and maybe help us spread the word that serious problems affecting students’ educations are happening everyday.
         Thank you so much for reading this! We love you!
   

            Your fans,

            Ashley Lawless   
            Alivia Carter
            Lauren Himmelberg
            Weston Moore
            Kaity
The following are links are to what he wrote and the author’s of two of the books responses:

His article: http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20109180307

Sarah Ockler’s (author of “20 Boys Summer”) response: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20100922/OPINIONS02/9220352/Ockler-Debate-over-books-fine-but-limiting-our-choices-is-not

Laurie Halse Anderson’s (author of “Speak”) response: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20100922/OPINIONS02/9220371/Anderson-Description-of-Speak-story-may-mislead-Republic-s-citizens