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Politics & Government

North Idaho School District To Keep 'Of Mice And Men' On Reading List

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

John Steinbeck’s classic "Of Mice and Men" will remain on the classroom reading list for freshmen in a north Idaho school district.

The Coeur d’Alene school board voted 4-1 Monday night to keep it.

A citizen advisory group on literature had determined that profanity and racial slurs in the 1937 novella made it inappropriate for regular ninth grade classroom instruction. They recommended moving “Of Mice and Men” onto the list of approved books for voluntary, small-group study.

But English teacher Brianna Cline disagreed. She told members of the school board bad words are not new to teenagers.

“Casual use of the n-word among white high schoolers is significantly more destructive than controlled exposure followed by an intellectual conversation in a healthy classroom environment,”Cline argued.

The local conflict over the book was picked up by national media and widely discussed online.

School trustee Tom Hamilton voted in favor of keeping the book on the regular instruction list, but said he was appalled by the comments he saw from other supporters of the book.

“They degraded into what I can only describe as self-righteous elitism,” Hamilton said. “And they started calling people Hitler and Nazis and other things like that. And it’s just become our American culture -- we shame those with whom we don’t agree into silence. Rather than engaging in the dialog and engaging in the debate.”

The board ultimately voted to keep the book where it was. Parents can still opt their children out.

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