PEN America misses the real problem in book-banning: monopoly

To what does PEN attribute the rise? Organized right‐​wingers, including such groups as Parents Defending Education and No Left Turn in Education. PEN is largely correct about the immediate cause, with people on the right increasingly sounding alarms over “critical race theory” and “gender ideology” in public schools. But as is often the case, the PEN report misses the root cause: public schooling itself, which forces diverse people to pay for, and de facto use, a single system of government schools.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the report is just one paragraph in a sidebar that encapsulates the problem without at all recognizing it. It reduces the problem not to government control, but which government entities are in charge: elected bodies like school boards, or librarians and teachers employed by the system. …

Ironically, PEN calls efforts to get school boards or state legislatures – popularly elected bodies – to remove books “undemocratic.” But that is almost the textbook definition of “democratic,” and for many public schooling defenders democratic control is a crucial aspect of public schooling. The people collectively decide what ideas the newest generation is exposed to.