Apparently Anne Frank is not welcome in Culpeper County Schools. In fact, this version of Anne Frank, “The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition,” has been banned from being taught in the classroom, based on the complaint of one parent. Culpeper County Public Schools, like most school systems, has a process by which books with complaints are screened and evaluated. The process was not followed in this case.
According to the Washington Post:
“The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition,” which was published on the 50th anniversary of Frank’s death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future, said James Allen, director of instruction for the 7,600-student system. The school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints about instructional materials, Allen said.
The diary documents the daily life of a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II. Frank started writing on her 13th birthday, shortly before her family went into hiding in an annex of an office building. The version of the diary in question includes passages previously excluded from the widely read original edition, first published in Dutch in 1947. That book was arranged by her father, the only survivor in her immediate family. Some of the extra passages detail her emerging sexual desires; others include unflattering descriptions of her mother and other people living together.
Allen said that the more recent version will remain in the school library and that the earlier version will be used in classes. The 1955 play based on Frank’s experiences also has been a part of the eighth-grade curriculum for many years. The diary’s “universal theme, that there is good in everyone, resonates with these kids,” Allen said.
The Washington Post was able to outline the complaint process that normally takes place:
Culpeper’s policy on “public complaints about learning resources” calls for complaints to be submitted in writing and for a review committee to research the materials and deliberate, Allen said. In this case, the policy was not followed. Allen said the parent registered the complaint orally, no review committee was created and a decision was made quickly by at least one school administrator. He said he is uncertain about the details because he was out of town.
“The person came in, and the decision was made that day . . . and that’s fine. We would like to have had it in writing. It just did not happen,” Allen said.
Why would an administrator not follow county policy and make such a determination for the entire county? Why doesn’t the director of instruction immediately override the wimpy principals and put the book through the normal complaint process? The Diary of Anne Frank has been read by more people than any book other than the bible. according to some sources. It has been translated into many multiple languages. Very few complaints have been lodged against it.
In most cases, parents who are uncomfortable with teaching materials are allowed to remove their child from being taught the material in question or alternate materials are selected. Why would one parent be allowed to make learning decisions for everyone else’s child in the county. Culpeper County needs to re-evaluate this decision and follow its own rules.