Citizen protest doesn’t move McMinn County School Board to reverse ‘Maus’ action
Concerned citizens believe book removal shows district is not interested in furthering children's education
ATHENS (WDEF) – One month ago, the McMinn County School Board made a decision that put it squarely in the international public eye.
The McMinn County School Board says it will not review its decision to remove the graphic novel ‘Maus,’ a book about the Holocaust, from the district’s eighth grade curriculum.
It’s been 31 days since the McMinn County School Board convened an emergency meeting, and unanimously decided to remove the graphic novel ‘Maus’ from the district’s eighth grade curriculum. It came by surprise to many students and parents in the area, since it came one day prior to the teaching of the book. Board member Mike Cochran was instrumental in persuading the board to vote with him that the book was inappropriate for an eighth grade mind.
“If a parent wants to give their child that book, it’s $15 on Amazon. It’s two Happy Meals these days. As a parent, you have every right to put that in front of your child, but you don’t have the right to put that in someone else’s child’s hands,” Cochran said.
On the other side of that, retired scientist Cynthia McCowan responded, “I don’t think anything in that book will destroy a child’s character or destroy them emotionally. It will help them grow because you have to trust your teachers to know how to do that.”
A group of concerned teachers and citizens from McMinn County had this date marked on their calendar just to show up and voice their displeasure with the Board’s decision.
Success has been fleeting for eighth graders. A success rate below the state average. An English and language arts achievement rate on the decline, and comprehension of the English language is down over 22 percent from 2018. Those opposed to the decision wonder if it was based on those facts.
“Removing something from the curriculum this hastily proves to me, personally, the school board has no intention of improving education. This almost feels like a political decision or a faith-based decision,” said concerned citizen and McMinn Central High School graduate James Cockrum.
Despite the board’s decision, those opposed to it wouldn’t say if they will continue their fight to have the book reinstated.