ACLU-NC Applauds Watauga School Board for Voting To Keep ‘The House of the Spirits’ in Classroom

Published Friday, February 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

*Press release from ACLU-NC

Feb. 28, 2014. The Watauga County Board of Education tonight voted 3-2 to keep Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” in the county’s public school curriculum for sophomore honors English students after a challenge to the board had been brought. Two board-sanctioned committees had previously voted unanimously to keep the book in the curriculum.   

Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation, released the following statement:

“We applaud the Watauga County Board of Education for doing the right thing and supporting the freedom to read. Sophomore honors English students in Watauga schools will now be able to once again read ‘The House of the Spirits’ with the benefit of faculty led classroom discussions, and parents who object to assigned texts still have the option to choose an alternative reading option.”

Mary Kent Whitaker, a two-time Watauga County “Teacher of the Year,” taught “The House of the Spirits” in her honors sophomore English classes until the challenge was brought this year. She delivered testimony before the before vote tonight.

The ACLU of North Carolina joined many community members, including parents and students, at a rally in Boone to speak out in favor of the freedom to read and against banning the book a few hours before the vote. 

In January, the Brunswick County Board of Education voted to uphold a decision by the county superintendent to keep Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” as part of the AP high school curriculum after a challenge was brought there. In September 2013, the Randolph County Board of Education voted to reverse an earlier vote banning Ralph Ellison’s literary classic, “Invisible Man,” from Randolph County schools. 

On Monday, the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation sent a public records request to the Watauga County Board of Education seeking all communications between board members concerning the challenge to “The House of the Spirits.” 

The ACLU of North Carolina is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the guarantees of individual liberty found in the United States and North Carolina Constitutions and related federal and state civil rights laws. With more than 10,000 members and supporters throughout the state and an office located in Raleigh, the organization achieves its mission through advocacy, public education, community outreach, and when necessary, litigation. Visit acluofnc.org for more information.

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