Alabama senator calls for removal of Toni Morrison novel aligned with Common Core
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- One week after facing an official GOP reprimand for failing
to oppose Common Core, Sen. Bill Holtzclaw is calling upon state educators to ban
a novel used in conjunction with the national standards.
Holtzclaw objects to "The Bluest Eye," Toni Morrison's first novel, being
included on high school reading lists. He said was unaware whether the book was
in high school libraries, but that he would also support removal from school libraries.
"The book is just completely objectionable, from language to
the content," said Holtzclaw, who points out the novel includes depictions of incest and child molestation.
The American Library Association lists "The Bluest Eye" as the 15th most commonly banned or challenged book in the United States from 2000 through 2009. Morrison, who released the novel in 1970, later won the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for literature.
Holtzclaw has said it's not the job of lawmakers to dictate
curriculum standards to educators. This morning he said that he
represents five local
school districts and all five were in support of the new state standards
reading and math, which align with national Common Core.
So he did not support a bill calling for
repeal of state standards. However, he also said he sees no value
requiring students to encounter the graphic passages contained within
"I have told parents if you find something objectionable, I'll
look at it and I'll listen to you and I'll lead the charge," said Holtzclaw, R-Madison,
who kicked off his re-election bid on Tuesday at the Westin at Bridge Street.
He said his campaign will be focused on bringing more roads
and jobs to North Alabama, with a particular emphasis on landing more federal
jobs. 'There are going to be future BRACS," he said. "We're in a sweet spot and
we need to continue to capitalize on that."
Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (The Huntsville Times)
But last week Holtzclaw was thrust into the middle of a fray
within the GOP, as the Madison County Republican Executive Committee
censured state school board member Mary Scott Hunter for failing to fight
against Common Core.
The local party prepared a similar censure of Holtzclaw, but
ran out of time and did not vote on the censure. Some members have said his censure
will come up again next month. But the chair of the Madison County Republican Executive
Committee has since asked committee members refrain from speaking with the
Holztclaw said a constituent contacted him last week about "The
Bluest Eye" in relation to Common Core. Holztclaw said he has since contacted State Superintendent Tommy Bice.
The Alabama Department of Education was crafting a response and did not
immediately reply to inquiries about Holtzclaw's concerns.
Holtzclaw said the state doesn't have to align with 100
percent of the Common Core standards, and can adjust the curriculum to suit
Alabama's own standards. As for the Morrison novel, he said he hoped to "ensure
that it's not on any reading list in the state of Alabama."
The book is commonly challenged over sex scenes, child abuse, profanity and difficult subject matter.
novel was also included in Oprah's Book Club Collection, where it is
described as: "Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain Ohio, it
tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays
for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful as beloved
as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America."
Holtzclaw said he was not initially focused on removing the book
from school libraries, but would probably support removal from library shelves.
"There is a slippery slope, and there are folks that will
find objectionable material in widely accepted classic American literature,"
said Holtzclaw. "My goal with respect to this book is more along the lines if
it is required reading."http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/08/sen_bill_holtzclaw_calls_for_r.html