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Taking Care of Bias?
One story flagged as making Oregon a "hotbed" of censorship is the tale of a first grade science reader. When Help The Forest was challenged on grounds it contained an anti-logger bias, the district involved moved quickly to have the offending text removed.
This is a bit different from the more often heard complaints of inappropriate sexual or racial references. We didn't have time to talk about it on today's show, but we checked in with Trisha Evens to find out what happened. She is the director of Elementary Education for the Grants Pass School District and said the publisher resolved the issue quickly by providing a different version.
“Within a week I had the replacement book,” says Trisha Evens, “Another district in the state of Oregon had made the same complaint to the publisher and the publisher had already revised the book so it was easier for them” to send a new one.
The original version (pdf) of Help the Forest showed a picture of a logger with a chainsaw, with text that said "these people do not take care of the forest. They cut down huge trees. They drop trash on the ground.” The book goes on to say: “The trees are gone. The birds cannot find homes. The animals cannot find food.”
This didn’t sit well with some parents in Grants Pass, a community that has been hit hard by downturns in the logging industry.
The revised version presents a more positive view. According to the Associated Press, the pictures show a firefighter and a tree planter and the text is upbeat. “These people take care of huge forests. They put out fires. They cut down sick trees. Then new trees can be planted. Animals will still have homes. They will still find food.”
So which version is actually true?
“For us in our school district one presents a less biased opinion of loggers,” Evens said. “That was our decision in our district.”
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