Harford County schools superintendent "un-bans" controversial 9th-grade book


    Looks like Harford County’s book banning days are over. The Baltimore Sun reports this morning that Harford County Schools superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas has reversed her decision to bar Robert Cormier’s 1974 book “The Chocolate War” from a 9th-grade course dealing with harassment and decision-making. After a seven-month review of the situation that sparked controversy among local parents and drew national media attention last spring, the Sun reports that Haas has allowed the book, which includes some vulgar language, to be used in class as long as all the parents of students in a class give their permission and the teacher alerts the school system’s central administration. Another book, Graham Gardner’s 2004 novel “Inventing Elliot,” will be the standard assigned literary text, the story said.

    “The two books have different strengths,” [Haas] said. “The Chocolate War has lots of action in it. … Inventing Elliot is a great character study … If a teacher has a group of students that need action to get engaged, they can select The Chocolate War if parents opt their kids into reading that book.”

    When Haas pulled the book from the freshman course “Living in a Contemporary World,” her action drew attention from at least a dozen media outlets nationwide, calling her action a book ban. (The Chocolate War does have a reputation for controversy as it’s been one of the top 10 books receiving requests that it be removed from public libraries and schools, according to the 2006 American Library Association list.)

    We’ll have to see if Harford County gets the same kind of attention now that we’ve un-banned the book.