Anatomy of a Book Controversy

By Wayne Homstad | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
INSTITUTIONAL VALUES
AND PROBLEM SOLVING

Fundamentally, Anatomy of a Book Controversy is about a problem and its solution. But no anatomy can be fully revealed merely by studying the problem's surface features. An "internal" examination of how a school district processes a book controversy can reveal some of the basic values that lie at the heart of the institution. Thus revealed, these values can be examined as components in change or reform.


Defining the Problem

The first step in solving any problem successfully is clearly defining the problem, or set of problems. Few problems involving book protests are as simple and straightforward as they may seem initially.

At first, the Go Ask Alice controversy seemed straightforward. A parent objected to the reading of a novel. The solution to that problem was the removal of the book. That was the perception at the Community Input Session. However, as the problem and this "quick and easy" solution were examined from various points of view at a reflective distance, the problem and this solution spawned several other problems in need of solutions. Thus the complications of policy interpretation, committee actions, constitutional rights, and expectations contained in latent policies became factors in the later, revised and elaborated resolution of the controversy.

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