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I have seen many letters or comments complaining the school board is banning or censoring books. This is a stretch and the public should understand the truth. Banning or censoring a book would be prohibiting the students from reading the book. This is not the case. The books are freely available in our libraries. What we were voting for was whether to force the students to read the book as a textbook for a course requirement. I believe there is a vast difference.

Some of the letters even compared my actions to the Nazis in the '30s. Considering Mr. Ronell's past, I find it even more absurd that he would agree with Mr. Wolfe. I think the community should know the basis for our votes and then decide for themselves. Funny how all the letters didn't mention the facts behind the vote.

I think we all would agree that forcing kindergarteners to read pornographic material is wrong, so let's reject the argument that a school board should never reject a book as wrong right off the bat. The difference is where we draw the line.

Having grown up in the '60s, I remember numerous marches, protests etc. that I participated in. First dealing in civil rights and later anti-war protests. I guess I'm still a product of that era. When the book came up for a vote, the only two members of the board who read the book said it portrayed their religion in a demeaning way and stereotyped all people of that religion in a poor manner. Is this what we want to teach our children? The school board gets backup on why books are chosen and how they will be used in the classroom. I don't think any of us would have objected to the book if the backup stated the teacher was aware of the prejudices in the book and was going to address that in the class as she used the book. I think this would have been commendable, but alas it was not there. I did not want to approve this book until we had at least this reassurance.

Some in the community may disagree with me on whether this is reason enough, but the board is required by law to approve textbooks, a duty I do not take lightly. I don't believe we should just rubber-stamp our approvals. I'm sure that if Elders or Zion or some equally infamous anti-Semitic book was being forced on the students (and not in the context of what was wrong with the book), many of the same people who complained about my vote this time would want to know how dare I allow it to happen. Wasn't it Mr. Ronell who just recently complained about an art exhibit that he didn't think was proper and should be banned? Unfortunately, Mr. Ronell's hatred of me blinds him to look no further than it was Mr. Sussman who voted that way so it must be wrong.

So let me see, because I voted against forcing our students to read a book that teaches them a group of people are inferior because of their religion, I'm a Nazi. It would be too easy to turn the tables and call them Nazis in return, but I don't think that's the case. I think they let local politics get in the way of their reasoning.

And by the way, Mr. Wolfe, my constituents are those that care about education in this town and look to improve it and will spend money to that end. They also do not want to see money wasted or go to frivolous items and want the money to be spent on education.

Richard Sussman


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