TCTELA Position Statement in Support of Reading
The Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts stands in support of school districts in Texas as they work towards advancing literacy and the skills and dispositions students need in order to be citizens who contribute to the sustenance of our collective freedom.
Recently, the General Investigating Committee of the Texas House of Representatives made requests to survey materials selected by districts with regards to specific titles and topics. TCTELA believes that school districts must be afforded the freedom to select educational materials that will provide the optimum learning experiences for their students, and no act should abridge the rights of school districts in so doing.
TCTELA believes that students, parents, and guardians should be able to make choices about the books that students are provided. However, no one stakeholder shall make a decision determining what is allowable and available for all students.
TCTELA supports district policies that include clear, formal procedures for book challenges. These policies should both allow community members to have a voice about texts in schools while retaining students’ access to a wide-ranging array of texts. Decisions in book challenges should prioritize educational considerations and support curricular needs.
Texas school districts should have the freedom to maintain a diverse and varied range of texts available to students. TCTELA supports students’ access to diverse texts, including those that exist in classroom libraries, book rooms, and school libraries.
The National Coalition Against Censorship communicates that, “the removal of books from public school libraries with the intent to suppress any political ideas, including Critical Race Theory, is a violation of the First Amendment.”
This freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
According to the third tenet set forth in the Library Bill of Rights, “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” Therefore teachers, librarians and administrators should encourage students to exercise their First Amendment freedom to read and explore the world to develop a sense of self-identity.
Texas students have the right to read and access a free expression of ideas. Teachers, librarians, and administrators must vow to protect that right by standing against censorship.
“Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association, https://www.ala.org/advocacy/sites/ala.org.advocacy/files/content/LBORwithInterpretation s.pdf
“NCAC Urges Texas School District to Keep Jerry Craft Books in Libraries.” National Coalition Against Censorship, 15 Oct. 2021, https://ncac.org/news/katy-texas-jerry-craft-library.
“The Students' Right to Read.” National Council of Teachers of English, https://ncte.org/statement/righttoreadguideline/.
TCTELA Statement Against Racism
The unjust killing of George Floyd, and other acts of violence and oppression against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, have challenged the conscience of the world. We believe that educators have a moral obligation to combat racism, inequity, oppression, and complicity. TCTELA stands with those working for equity and justice.
TCTELA cannot stand for and work towards equity and justice without the voices of the entire population, particularly in a state as diverse as Texas. For this reason, TCTELA will endeavor to make sure these diverse populations are represented through the following actions, whenever possible: include BIPOC on the TCTELA Board and in appointed positions, include workshops and convention sessions that appeal to a BIPOC, focus on anti-racism in education, and include BIPOC populations as targeted groups in any recruiting efforts.
We challenge TCTELA members to:
- Examine personal bias and prejudice.
- Read widely and value a variety of cultures.
- Look at historical events from various perspectives.
- Learn about anti-racism.
- Get to know BIPOC colleagues. Learn from them.
- Invite BIPOC educators to join TCTELA.
- BIPOC: practice radical self-care and seek out safe spaces
- Curate classroom libraries that celebrate all students in the classroom.
- Invite students to explore texts that celebrate BIPOC rather than whiteness.
- Work as an organization to eradicate injustices within our communities.
- Encourage writing that allows students to share their views on anti-racism.
Resources We Recommend:
- NCTE Takes a Stance Against Racism https://ncte.org/blog/2020/06/ncte-takes-stance-racism/?fbclid=IwAR3ApeLYspvJ4mDDEsbowaHmqDNv_d_3DS5rXmUO1q5whwz_E5jRlJyiuSI
- Build Your Stack: Antiracist Books for Your Curriculum Today https://ncte.org/blog/2020/06/antiracist-books-curriculum-today/
- Radical Self-Care https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/antiracismresources/bipoc/selfcare & https://ypdc.yale.edu/diversity-and-anti-racism-resource