Censorship in School Affects Education


MURAL: This mural depicting the ruins of Palenque, Che Guevarra, and Picasso’s Don Quixote appeared for years in Mr. Draney’s room. Administration recently had it painted over due to concerns from some members of the community. “Some people do not want to have the hard conversations to see someone else’s point of view. It is easier to silence them or in this case erase it,” said mural artist and art teacher Mr. Adam Guild.

Priscilla Greenwell, staff writer

In this day and age it is very common for people to find things offensive. Outrage abounds, and schools have always been a target for such upset. I hear stories every day from all over the United States about teachers using their jobs as political platforms or using their position to teach things that are controversial. However, our teachers are great at keeping their political views out of their teaching. For instance Mr. Aaron Lancaster and Mr. Mckay Young effectively show the pros and cons of all sides without favoritism towards either. 

Talking about real world events is important, but at school the important but polarizing issues are sometimes ignored in favor of “school” topics. Years ago, there was more freedom for students and teachers to express themselves. An example of this occurred in 2009. Art teacher Mr.Guild and Spanish teacher Ty Draney collaborated to have a mural of The Ruins of Palenque, Che Guevarra, and Picasso’s Don Quixote painted on Señor Draney’s classroom wall. This mural went seemingly unnoticed for 12 years.

“A few weeks ago, I was informed that someone found the mural of the ruins of Palenque, Che Guevarra, and Picasso’s Don Quixote offensive. They took a photo of it and took it to the school board.  The message was then relayed to Mr. Horsley that plans were being made to paint over the mural.  He and I discussed the reasons for it being there, and then they painted over it…I was surprised by the uproar it caused recently since it had been on the wall since 2009. Making a political statement was never my intention,” said Señor Draney.

ERASED: This blank wall once was the home of a now-censored mural in Mr. Draney’s room. Not much to learn here.

In its place now is a blank wall with no hint of what previously occupied it. The painting over of the mural caused many people to become upset. “We could have painted over the controversial image if that was the problem, without removing the entire mural,” said Guild. Guild is referring to the image of Che Guevarra whose ties to Marxism, in the 1960’s, have made him a controversial figure. The controversy over this mural is potentially going to affect how the art department can proceed with paintings or murals.

 “Some people want the district to approve everything, a word for that is censorship…Art as a whole, should not be censored in the schools as long as it is not something that is pornographic, depicts the use of drugs or alcohol, or promotes or celebrates violence…Obviously we have to be a little more careful in a school setting; however, there should at least be a conversation about something being removed before it is just erased. Otherwise we will just be conforming to those few loud mouths who throw a fit when they see something they do not agree with. It happens way too much in education,” said Guild. 

Many people express themselves through art. Art having to be “approved” in order to be allowed at school affects creativity and the freedom of personal expression. This situation opens up a great discussion for what we can do to stop censorship in school and allow opinions by students and staff to be heard and understood by everyone involved while still staying appropriate for a school setting.

“To quote Brené Brown, ‘Transformative learning is messy’, and I feel that if we want to move on beyond ‘how many stars are on the flag’- type rote memorization, we need to discuss controversial topics in a civilized matter.  Not surprisingly, there has been way more discussion about the mural in the last few weeks than there ever was in the previous 12 years of its existence. Maybe that’s the lesson to be learned here,” said Draney.

Whatever side you fall onto, it is important to be able to see all sides of the story and understand the difference between facts and feelings. Both have a place in learning and should be censored with great discretion.