Persepolis removed from Chicago schools amidst confusion; protest scheduled

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Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS, a stunning coming of age story considered a classic by many, has been ordered removed from Chicago’s Lane Technical High School for reasons that remain unclear.

The story broke at former teacher Fred Klonsky’s blog, where he posted a letter circulated in the Chicago Public School system:

Yesterday afternoon, one of the Network Instructional Support Leaders stopped by my office and informed me (per a directive given during the Chief of Schools meeting on March 11) that all ISLs were directed to physically go to each school in the Network by Friday (3/15) to:

*Confirm that Persepolis is not in the library,
*Confirm that it has not been checked out by a student or teacher,
*Confirm with the school principal that it is not being used in any classrooms,
*And to collect the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi from all classrooms and the Library.

I was not provided a reason for the collection of Persepolis. If I learn more I will inform all staff.


While there is some speculation that the removal had to do with books that were accidentally ordered, chatter in the comments indicates that this is unlikely—PERSEPOLIS is actually taught in several classes and is included in the new Common Core standards.

Books are not to be removed from school library without due process, and a comment below confirms that it is not being removed from school libraries:

Dear Librarians –
We have received clarification from the Chief Education Office that the directive to remove Persepolis from schools does not apply to school libraries, and that any further challenge or attempt to remove this or any other book from a school library must be guided by the Collection Development policy which outlines the review procedure.
This clarification and a copy of the Collection Development policy has been forwarded to all school chiefs. As you know, the Collection Development policy is posted on the Department of Libraries wiki at http://cpslibraries.wikispaces.com/collectiondev
Any questions regarding copies of Persepolis that are not in the school library should be directed to your principal.


No plausible reason has been given for the removal, and in a later post a librarian suggests that the topic was being squelched:

Fred
I’m a CPS librarian very worried about the possible banning of the book Persepolis. We received the email below today, after HS librarians raised the issue days ago on our listserv. We have a CPS listserv for librarians, but a friend of mine tried to comment on this issue and was censored from discussing the issue further on this listserv.  We were also told it was Fullerton Network where the book was being removed.

-N

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Amidst all the confusion and backtracking, a protest has been scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon:

A group of students, parents and teachers from Lane Technical High School are planning a protest this afternoon at the corners of Western and Addison streets. They will be protesting the action of CPS bureaucrats who have attempted to pull the acclaimed graphic novel, Persepolis, off of school book shelves.


As alluded to above, PERSEPOLIS is a modern classic, presenting a moving story of a young woman’s struggle in an oppressive society, that is taught in schools around the world. It was adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie. Although the US has an embarrassing history of removing classic works from schools and libraries, whoever decided to remove this book is pretty certain to end up on the wrong side of history.

Comments

  1. If I had the money, I’d go buy a bunch of copies, stand out front of the schools, and hand them out to whomever will take them. I haven’t even read Persepolis, and I’d do that. They’ve done the same thing to Ray Bradbury’s books.

  2. Rich Johnston says:

    Didn;t break at Fred’s blog, he cites it from CPS Chatter.

  3. Persepolis is a beautiful work of art and, as you say, already a classic. No reason to get rid of it, I think.

    But this is a tough one. While I think it’s awesome that all these people like NeilHimself and others are throwing their support behind this cause, the state of Chicago schools, especially as it pertains to guns, is apocalyptic in that city. Just look it up — it is literally unbelievable. I know this is TOTALLY unfair to bring up in a conversation about censorship, but
    can’t help it — saw it all over Twitter today. I know it is Comics Nation and all that, but maybe there’s a way to link the two. We will all survive if Persepolis gets booted out of one high school for two weeks. But get rid of guns and people will actually survive. Just my unasked-for 2 cents.

  4. Johnny Memeonic says:

    I imagine the attempted removal would be over the same reason this was “controversial” overseas, that is, some overly sensitive type thought it would upset the city’s muslim population.

    Of course now that the fire is already high enough to get Rahm Emmanuel (who once knifed a table to death for betraying Bill Clinton or something) himself to respond, the actual reason will be buried under “clerical error” or some similar excuse so as not to make people even angrier.

  5. Serhend Sirkecioglu says:

    The wrong side of history is the forgotten part of history.

  6. Peter says:

    Somebody did those kids a favor.

  7. The Beat says:

    Nothing like a lecture on accuracy from Rich to put a smile on your face.

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