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:
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.
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.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.