The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Dearborn Parent Moved by Book Ban Initiative

Nov 21, 2022

Starting in September, and up to the present, School Board meetings in Dearborn, Michigan became heated when hundreds of people descended on the meetings. The majority in attendance demanded that seven books, having to do with gender identity and LGBTQ issues, be banned from Dearborn Schools’ libraries. Some in the crowd verbally and even physically threatened school board members and others who opposed banning books. Homophobic and transphobic slurs were slung about.

These attacks are not restricted to Dearborn. They joined the chorus of others in school districts around the country who present themselves as part of a so-called “parental rights” movement, demanding that these few books, as well as those having to do with institutional racism, be banned.

So what is really going on here? Who raised this rallying cry to ban certain books? How would these Dearborn parents, mainly coming from the working class and poorer layers of the Muslim population, including more recent immigrants, know of these seven books in a library system that includes more than 300,000 titles and almost 500,000 books in the first place?

The answer doesn’t lie in Dearborn. The answer lies in the fact that sections of the wealthy far-right in this country are investing a ton of money in outside PAC funding to continue what they have been doing for a very long time: find the various ways to take public money away from public education. Right-wing national organizations, including the Leadership Institute, which the Koch brothers fund, have backed school board candidates and organizations, like “Mothers for Liberty.” The Leadership Institute organizes “conservative training for operatives and activists.” Under the guise of concern for parental rights, operatives are sent in to polarize people at local levels, diverting their attention from the real problems they and their families face; these operatives, in fact, are continuing the process of dismantling public education. The wealthy far-right, that has historically counted on the support of a fundamentalist Christian base, now consciously aligns itself with leaders of mosques in primarily poor and working-class layers of the population in Dearborn, those more likely to follow Islamic fundamentalism, to unleash these attacks on school boards and teachers.

One teacher, who herself is Muslim, in the specific area of Dearborn where parents have been mobilized to call for book bans, has expressed fury at what is happening. She sees these parents are being used by outside forces—forces that are anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-public education. She expressed frustration that many of these families are being redirected away from the important problems they face in their school districts and communities.

These parents’ rallying cries should be: We need more teachers. We need more teacher aides. We need more electives. We need more funding for English as a Second Language programs. We need more resources for our kids, period.

But that will take strong organization in the working class, to be part of organizational efforts to combat these right-wing forces. And to fight for the right that all children have the right to an excellent public education with the fullest access to literature, history, art, culture, language and science.