Dr. Freeman’s email response regarding ban of certain Dr. Seuss books
Dr. Paul Freeman recently issued a response to a concerned parent regarding certain books no longer present in the Guilford School system. The parent, who will remain unnamed for privacy reasons, simply asked this superintendent if any content was racist, sexist or homophobic.
Freeman’s response, and our enumerated comments:
We have not removed Dr, Suess books from our system. Dr. Suess wrote some 60 titles, some of which are now nearly 75 years old. Across our five elementary libraries (including BMS), we have many if not most of Dr. Suess’ books on our shelves, including those titles that remain popular and sought after.
- Freeman denies the books have been removed.
- Then he defends the fact of the remaining books.
While you note that you do not want to discuss printing practices, I am going to assume that you are not asking about all Suess books, however, but about six titles in particular that made news in 2021 when the publisher of Suess’ books announced that they would no longer publish those titles. Two of our five elementary libraries show no record of those particular titles in our collections. In two of our five libraries some but not all of those titles remain on the shelves and in circulation. In one location, the librarian removed those titles from active circulation.
- Dr. Freeman knows well of the 2021 news story; again, he doesn’t answer why those (or some of those) titles are missing.
- Note here that he goes on to blame the decision on the librarian.
Just as librarians are responsible for purchasing new titles for their collections every year, they are also responsible for culling their collections every year. Books move out of circulation for many reasons including when they become damaged or worn, when the information in them becomes antiquated or dated, or when circulation numbers no longer support their remaining in active circulation. I have no intention to micro-manage those decisions.
- Is there a policy for “culling” a library collection? Note the parent asked about content, not the book condition or “antiquated” information.
- What does Paul Freeman know about circulation numbers “supporting” active circulation?
And please know: I will continue to support classroom teachers making decisions about content at their individual level, and I will continue to support librarians and media specialists as they make individual decisions about content to be purchased and shelved in our libraries and media centers.
- Here, Dr. Freeman’s tone turns condescending — observe, through his use of an “I will continue” mantra, he is insinuating that a) this parent is NOT supportive of teachers, librarians, and media specialists and b) that he himself is not somehow involved in the “individual decisions” of these specialists.
Further, I will defend our teachers and librarians when public comments, social media conversations or questions to me and the Board of Education suggest, imply or outright accuse those professionals of doing anything less than their level best every day to provide rich and diverse texts and instructional tasks that allow our children to be challenged, to see themselves reflected in materials, and to learn to understand and empathise more fully with those who are different than themselves through the materials and tasks with which they come into contact in our schools.
- Here again, “I will defend” as though he is reciting from a kind of book or training manual.
- Dr. Freeman reveals here that he considers “public comments”, “social media conversations” and “questions to me and the Board….” suspect, unless aforesaid writings are filled with praise and adulation. Notice his tone becomes a little paranoid here, as his narcissism inevitably emerges.
- For a “defense”, something dictates that Freeman must duly recite what he’s been heavily trained in — Portrait of a Graduate and talking points generated from Partners In Education, CABE, CAPSS, and the CSDE. By reciting rehearsed sentences, Dr. Freeman overall avoids an answer and it appears he feels threatened by the original question.
- Sadly, it also appears this superintendent didn’t remember the rules of English. My, what a run-on sentence.
Paul Freeman Ed.D.
Superintendent, Guilford Public Schools
Keep in mind: the books were removed, not replaced.
If you’re inclined, here’s a revealing article on Freeman’s personality; read his responses slowly, even out loud, noting the language use and ego.
Re: the FOIA request — the GoFundMe for the printed information is: https://gofund.me/c5aa3a24