American literary classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are read by most high school students nationwide. But students in Duluth, Minnesota, will no longer be required to read the novels.
And the reason why encapsulates political correctness culture.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the books will be dropped from high school English classes’ list of required reading in an effort to “be considerate of all students” because the books contain racial slurs.
The books were required reading for ninth- and 11th-grade English classes in Duluth Public Schools, but will be optional next school year.
Replacement texts have yet to be selected, but district officials said teachers will be integral to the replacement process.
The books, specifically “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” have become increasingly more controversial in recent years. Most public school students nationwide are required to read the texts at some point in their high school careers.
What did officials say?
Michael Cary, curriculum director for Duluth Public Schools, said students were made “uncomfortable” by the books and believed a change needed to be made.
“The feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable. Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students,” he explained.
He further told the Duluth News Tribune: “We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs.”
What was the response?
Some mocked the decision while others praised it. Stephan Witherspoon, president of the Duluth NAACP chapter, called the decision “long overdue.”
“It’s wrong. There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people. I’m glad that they’re making the decision and it’s long overdue, like 20 years overdue,” Witherspoon said. “Let’s move forward and work together to make school work for all of our kids, not just some, all of them.”
“Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school,” she added, according to the Star Tribune. “They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.”