Pair of moms here want Angelou classic out of Niles High class

Published 10:24 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A pair of Niles mothers are upset with one of the books being taught at Niles High School and want it removed from the school's curriculum.
Best-selling author Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is the novel at the center of the controversy.
School officials and a committee of school board members have agreed to meet with the parents at the Westside Administration Building, located at 111 Spruce St. in Niles, on Monday at 7 p.m. to discuss the book and whether it should continue to be a part of the school's curriculum.
Kathy Zeider and Connie Maglish, who have sons in 10th grade classes that have read the book, are recruiting other concerned parents to join them at the meeting to support the removal of the book.
Zeider said the reason for their concern are scenes of a graphic nature that she feels are inappropriate for high schoolers.
Zeider said the book depicts an eight-year-old girl being molested and then raped by her mother's boyfriend and the girl's brother being sexually active while she stands guard.
The book, which spent three years on the New York Times Best Seller List, is Angelou's autobiography.
Zeider read the book and thinks it is sending the wrong messages to young students with subject matters including sexual promiscuity, sexual irresponsibility and dishonesty.
Niles Community Schools superintendent Doug Law said the book is not being read by all 10th graders and that parents have the option to have their children read alternate books.
After Maglish expressed concern about the subject matter in the book, her son was taken out of class while the book was being taught and given an alternative book to read.
Law said there is also board policy that allows for books and materials in the curriculum to be reconsidered.
He said a reconsideration committee, made up of two students, a parent, the principal, the high school librarian and a member of the English department, met a few weeks ago to review the book.
The committee decided the book would stay in the curriculum and that the option of alternate books would remain available to students.
Zeider and Maglish were not satisfied with the committee's decision and are moving on to the next step, which is Monday night's meeting with a board committee to decide if the book should be completely removed from the school's curriculum.
In addition to getting the book removed from curriculum, Zeider and Maglish want parents to be better informed of what their children are reading.
Zeider said she respects the author and her book, but just thinks it is does not have a place in public schools.
Zeider is encouraging parents to come to Monday's meeting to show their support for 'moral purity' in the school system.