State Watch

Texas school district pulls books of children’s author over ‘critical race theory’

A Texas school district has “temporarily” removed children’s books by an award-winning author and canceled a planned appearance from the writer after parents claimed his books teach critical race theory.

Katy Independent School District has temporarily removed Jerry Craft’s books from its library and will make a longer-term decision within the next 15 days after conducting a review, according to KPRC 2, a local news station in Houston.

Craft was scheduled to virtually visit with third through fifth graders at Roosevelt Alexander Elementary School. The school allowed parents to opt their students out of the visit, and at least 30 parents did so, KPRC 2 reported. 

But that wasn’t enough for some parents. A petition, which was deleted for violating the website’s guidelines, called on the school district to cancel Craft’s visit and prohibit his books from circulating at the school.

“It is inappropriate instructional material,” Bonnie Anderson, who was once a school board candidate and now is part of a lawsuit opposing the district’s mask mandate, told KPRC 2. 

“The books don’t come out and say, ‘we want white children to feel like oppressors,’ but that is absolutely what they will do,” Anderson added. 

Other parents were disappointed by the decision to remove the books.

“They want to live in this bubble. They’re uncomfortable with touching the subject. They’re uncomfortable knowing that they’re part of the problem,” Omerly Sanchez, a parent of two biracial children in the school district, told KPRC 2.

Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into law a bill that prohibits critical race theory from being taught in the state’s public schools. But critics argue that some people misunderstand the purpose of critical race theory. 

“Critical race theory is definitely not about teaching white kids that they are inherently racist. It’s really more so about understanding how institutional racism is instituted in society, organizations and government,” Darius Benton, an assistant professor at the University of Houston, said to KPRC 2.

Craft, the author-illustrator of the books in question, has won the Newberry Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Kirkus Prize.

His website describes one of the banned books, “New Kid,” as “a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.”

The author’s website added that Universal Pictures has the film rights to his book, with a movie set to be produced by LeBron James’s production company. 

The Hill has reached out to Katy Independent School District for more information.

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