New Rochelle School Board Meets Tonight, "Culture of Censorship" on the Agenda

December 16, 2008 - 16:57

In their first public meeting since the Censorship Crisis first came to light last week, the embattled New Rochelle School Board will meet tonight from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM in the new wing at New Rochelle High School. New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound broke the news that authorities at the school district had ripped pages out of Susanna Kaysen's memoir Girl, Interrupted in a vulgar attempt to censor a frank discussion of sexuality contained in the book. The story is just the tip of a very large iceberg, part of the Culture of Censorship that the New Rochelle School District has actively embraced in dealing with students, parents and other New Rochelle residents.

A capacity crowd is expected to be on hand. So far, 127 New Rochelle High School alumni and students have signed up for a Facebook-generated protest, 43 as "confirmed guests" and and 84 as "may be attending" Many other New Rochelle residents have indicated they plan on being there as well. Several news organizations have indicated they may cover the meeting.

Do We Have the Courage and Conviction to do What Needs to be Done in Our Schools?

December 14, 2008 - 15:19

In the November Edition of TIME Magazine "Rhee Tackles Classroom Challenge", Amanda Ripley reports on, Michelle Rhee, the controversial Superintendent of Schools from Washington D.C. The article contains some important points that our community should consider. Thank you Mr. R., for bringing this article to our attention.

Rhee is convinced that the answer to the U.S.'s education catastrophe is talent, in the form of outstanding teachers and principals. She wants to make Washington teachers the highest paid in the country, and in exchange she wants to get rid of the weakest teachers. Where she and the teachers' union disagree most is on her ability to measure the quality of teachers.

Kevin Huffman, head of public affairs for Teach for America said:

Most people think about their own longevity, about political considerations." He adds, "Very few people genuinely don't care about anything other than the end result for kids. Michelle will compromise with no one when it comes to making sure kids get what they deserve."

Rhee is aware of the criticism, but she suggests that a certain ruthlessness is required. "Have I rubbed some people the wrong way? Definitely.

Trinity Elementary School Parents get a BIG, "It's Not My Job" from the USDA's Team Nutrition

December 13, 2008 - 17:27

Recently, one of our parents sent the following correspondence to the USDA's Team Nutrition regarding the some if the issues parents have been addressing with the lunch time situation at Trinity Elementary School at the City School District of New Rochelle.

Subject: New Rochelle Schools

Dear Team Nutrition:

I am a parent in New Rochelle who has serious concerns about the lunch time at one of our elementary schools. We do not feel the school district takes our concerns very seriously. We have documented and continue to document some of these issues and have only seen the issues minimized not been given the importance they deserve. As I read through "Setting Goals for Other School-Based ActivitiesDesigned to Promote Student Wellness" , I realized that our district has dropped the ball when it comes to the lunch at Trinity Elementary School. Maybe you can provide some assistance to our concerns.

Please visit the following links for context of some of the concerns:

Second Graders at Trinity Have a Long Wait Until Lunch
Second graders have to wait until 1:00PM to eat lunch.

New Rochelle High English Department Calls Censorship "Regrettable", Sidesteps Accountability

December 13, 2008 - 14:13

GirlInterrupted-Torn2.jpgIn a public statement that raises more questions than it answers, the English Department at New Rochelle High School published an anonymous letter on the New Rochelle High School web site yesterday which neither explains nor defends the actions of the school district in censoring Susanna Kaysen's best-selling memoir Girl, Interrupted. The statement goes to great lengths to avoid taking any direct responsibility or assign blame for the actions of staff at New Rochelle High School.

In 2004, there was a lapse in judgment to abridge a literary work; that decision is a regrettable one that can be explained but not defended. The recent revisiting of this event has given us cause to review our policies and to re-evaluate our inventory.

Book, Uninterrupted! New Unexpurgated Copies of Censored Book Distributed to Students

December 12, 2008 - 23:48


After a week of controversy, students at New Rochelle High School today received brand new, unexpurgated copies of Girl, Interrupted.

The City School District of New Rochelle came under widespread criticism when this web site revealed on Monday that several pages of the book, deemed "inappropriate" by school officials, were ripped from somewhere between 50 and 90 copies of the book which had been recently assigned to a 12th grade film class.

The school district announced Wednesday a Special Meeting to be held at the high school next Tuesday night. In response to the controversy, Superintendent Richard Organisciak has added an agenda item euphemistically entitled Use of Appropriate Course Materials.

Anti-Censorship Groups Call on New Rochelle Schools to Revamp Book Challenge Process

December 12, 2008 - 23:45

The National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundations for Free Expression expressed their support for the New Rochelle School District's recent decision to replace copies of Girl, Interrupted after our exclusive report first broke the news that pages had been torn from the best-selling memoir.

We applaud your recent decision to replace censored copies of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir, Girl, Interrupted, with the full text in New Rochelle High School classrooms. We were shocked to learn that teachers at New Rochelle High School had torn out pages 64-70, reportedly based on complaints about sexual content and profanity. We also understand that this action was taken despite the fact that there had been no formal challenge to the book.

Executive Director Joan Bertin of the National Coalition Against Censorship and President Chris Finan of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression issued a joint statement in which they encouraged the district to adopt a formal, open book challenge process.

Get the Lastest on Censorship Crisis Here

December 12, 2008 - 14:35

Want all the latest on the censorship crisis? Bookmark, Sign up for our Google Group Mailing List, Subscribe to our RSS Feed, Join the Cause on Facebook to keep on top of all the latest breaking news on the school district's response to the censorship crisis at New Rochelle High School. You can even receive text alerts using Google Groups.

PANIC MODE! Board of Education Calls Special Session to Deal with Censorship Crisis

December 12, 2008 - 02:15

Reeling from an avalanche of negative criticism, the New Rochelle Board of Education has called a special session to deal with the censorship crisis that has enveloped the district for the better part of a week.

The Committee of the Whole Meeting originally scheduled for the tiny Carew Room at City Hill has been moved to the much larger Linda E. Kelly Theater in the "new wing" at New Rochelle High School. District officials are expecting a capacity crowd. Students and alumni from the high school have announced plans to protest the actions of the the school and print, TV and radio media outlets are expected to be on hand.

Among those expected to voice their concerns is Tara Baltazar, a former Editor-in-Chief of the Huguenot Herald and long time New Rochelle resident.

"If this happened in my day, I'd personally boycott the class,
stage a rally of some sort and mobilize the entire student body to
protest this," Baltazar told Talk of the Sound. "In my view, the teachers or the parties responsible for tearing out the pages should be held accountable in some form--perhaps by suspension without pay."