Although Captain Underpants and other funny books remain popular with young readers, an American educator was recently fired for selecting a humorous, age-appropriate book to read to second graders.
It all began, when Toby Price, an assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary School in Byram, Mississippi was asked to set up a class via Zoom.
“I was asked to schedule a Zoom where we were going to have a guest reader with the second graders. The Zoom reader didn’t show, and I didn’t hear back, so I was told to go ahead and read,” Price told news outlets.
Price has said the book, I Need a New Butt by Dawn McMillan, was a favourite of his to share because it’s silly. In a previous school, he read it aloud several times with no complaints. But upon finishing the book, Price, who had served three years in the position, was then sent to the administration building and told parents might complain.No parents had complained.
However, the district superintendent, Delesicia Martin, told Price he was being placed on leave. Two days later, he was accused of breaking the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics and fired.
In addition to this, a letter from Martin cited “unnecessary embarrassment, a lack of professionalism and impaired judgment” on Price’s part in picking the book.
PEN America has stepped in to defend Price’s choice and the effect cases like his have on the right to intellectual freedom. Price has also received support from children’s book authors, teachers and librarians who contend the book is “hilarious and sweet,” “joyful and fun” and “lighthearted” and that Martin’s decision to let him go was wrong.