Katy ISD Cancels Event With Acclaimed Children’s Author After Parents Alle “Critical Race Theory”

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An address by a critically acclaimed children’s book author was canceled and his books were taken off the curriculum following outrage from a small group of Katy ISD parents.

Sixth-grade graphic novelist Jerry Craft was scheduled to speak virtually at a Katy ISD event on Monday morning. Her engagement was quietly called off and her books removed from district libraries after 400 relatives of Katy ISD demanded that the event be canceled and her books banned, claiming Craft’s work promotes critical race theory.

The books are currently under review, said Laura Davis, media relations for Katy ISD, which means they have been removed from the program but have not been officially banned.

Craft’s graphic novels won the Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature. Much of her work focuses on the culture and experiences of modern African American tweens.

The graphic novels are based on the real experiences of the two sons of Craft.

Parents allege the books promote backwards racism against white children. The petition, which has since been deleted by change.org, was written by former Katy ISD board candidate Bonnie Anderson. Anderson made headlines last spring for suing the district for $ 100,000 for commissioning the mask in the 2020-21 school year.

“This petition seeks to ask the administration and superintendent of KISD to quash the Zoom appeal and stop promoting these books which are forged with critical race theory in the form of teaching children that their white privilege inherently comes with microaggressions that must be controlled, ”the petition says. “Craft’s writings, ‘New Kid’ and ‘Class Act’, are promoted to students and their parents without any notice of the overt teachings of critical race theory in both books.

A district statement said any parent can challenge a library book and that will result in the books being removed for review.

“Any parent of Katy ISD who chooses to challenge a library selection is encouraged to follow the EF (local) district board policy which outlines the process for formally challenging an educational resource,” the statement said. “The books in the Katy ISD library are regularly reviewed during this process. “

The event has been canceled and the books have been retired, the statement said, but students can still read the book outside of school district hours if they wish.

“Pending the outcome of a review committee, the school day’s activities associated with the selection under review are temporarily suspended,” the statement said. “Academic activities relating to selections under review and organized outside of the teaching day may however continue while a formal review process is taking place. “

The dissident parents were faced with their own backlash, however, as other parents in the district learned of the canceled event and the ban request. In a community forum for the district, many parents denounced the decision.

“We are new to the district and I am so ashamed to be associated with this racist mentality,” said one mother. “We will all be judged on their ignorance. “

“These books are amazing, and it’s maddening to see lies, ignorance and hatred preventing our KISD students from finding out about this author and his works as part of their education,” said another mother.

Many parents have noted that a petition with 400 signatures represents a small percentage of children in the district, but they are influencing a change that affects nearly 90,000 children.

“A whopping 444 parents signed the petition… for a district of over 88,000… Seriously? a parent wrote.

Jeynelle Branch is the mother of a sixth grade Katy ISD student whose son was going to attend the event. The books, Branch said, aren’t just about race; they teach how to be compassionate towards different people.

“People like to think that in a district like Katy ISD, nobody gets insulted and everything is sun and rainbow,” Branch said. “But that’s not true, and it even extends beyond race. What about kids on buses being dropped off at apartment complexes or even hotels while their peers are dropped off at a million dollar house? Kindness to these children matters too.

Branch called the district’s actions a “stain on the district,” noting that families who might consider coming to the area may reconsider the district’s compliance with racial censorship instigated by a small number of parents.

“It sends the message that there are people in the community who don’t matter,” she said. “The kids should be able to pick up a book and get another person’s point of view, and they took it off the shelves. “

For his part, Craft is baffled by the outrage. When a Twitter user asked, “Wait what? How is this book banned? Craft replied: “??????? Apparently I teach Critical Race Theory.

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