Texas Mom Demands Removal Of ‘The Working Poor’ From High School English Curriculum

While they exist outside of entirely different contexts and time periods, Ayn Rand and Ben Carson do share one common thread: Both of them are divisive figures with a group of extremely devoted followers. That’s not say every Ayn lover is a Ben fan or vice versa, but the two do share some at least some admirers. In fact, there’s even one Texas mother who thinks that they should make up a part of her children’s school curriculum instead of books like The Working Poor.

The woman, whose name and age have not been released, is arguing that David Shipler’s non-fiction book about poverty, The Working Poor, is inappropriate for a college-level AP English class and would be better suited for a political science or sociology classroom.

Instead, the woman recommends that Rand and Carson be taught in its place, in part because she says The Working Poor is too “sexually explicit” for a junior-level AP class, reported TheDallas Morning News. The mother specifically stated that the sexual abuse and abortion passages of the book paint women “as weak, pathetic, ignorant, sexual objects and incapable beings.”

The Working Poor is not a great work of literature or an example of rich writing we want our students to emulate. One must ask, is this the best piece of literature our students can read to learn to write?”

Highland Park Independent School District, which happens to be one of Texas’ richest, will hold off on switching over to Ayn and Ben until “an appointed committee of parents, staff and students” is able to vote on the issue. Whether other parents also want the book axed remains to be seen, but teachers say that the district has already put the book under proper scrutiny, in the end deciding The Working Poor was “a means to build students’ capacity for empathy and knowledge of an issue facing millions in America and millions more across the world.”

Some other parents in the community have also defended The Working Poor. Natalie Davis, a parent of a local high school student and the president of HP Kids Read, said that the challenge to The Working Poor was unfortunate as it promotes the elitist image that Highland Park evokes, though she did not not comment to Dallas Morning News on the specific suggestions of Rand and Carson for replacement.


“I understand any parent has a right to their own views and what they want for their child, but the decision to challenge this book in particular embarrasses me. You can’t change non-fiction to make it more palatable and you cannot find literature that depicts that side of America without those ugly depictions.”

This isn’t even the first time that The Working Poor has been banned in the Highland Park school district — it was actually one of seven book students in the district were abruptly stopped from reading last fall, reported The New York Times. National outrage was able to curb that ban, but it seems The Working Poor is still battling for the approval of at least one mother who would prefer Ayn and Ben being read by her children.

Do you think Ayn Rand and Ben Carson should be taught over The Working Poor?

[Image via Patrick Gage Kelley, Flickr]