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The 'Buck' can still stop in city schools

In "Buck," author M.K. Asante tells the story of growing up on the dangerous streets of Philadelphia and crafting a unique education from untraditional sources.
In "Buck," author M.K. Asante tells the story of growing up on the dangerous streets of Philadelphia and crafting a unique education from untraditional sources. (Random House)

Joshua Ober’s passion for inspiring his students is clear in his recent commentary about Baltimore City Public Schools’ decision to remove “Buck” by M.K. Asante as an assigned text for all students in a class at his high school (“Don’t ban ‘Buck,’” Dec. 10). I couldn’t agree more that the study of high-quality, challenging texts representing a range of voices, viewpoints, topics and genres is essential for motivating students and building their skills as readers, writers and thinkers.

In that spirit, I must clarify that “Buck” has not been banned. It is simply not part of the approved curriculum. Given the reality of limited time in the school year, extended study of additional texts compromises teachers’ and students’ ability to cover required readings and instructional units.

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Although “Buck” is not a core text in the high school curriculum, excerpts could be used to supplement the curriculum, and it may be appropriate for independent reading assignments. While the book contains passages that may be controversial for some readers, it is a powerful, inspirational memoir that resonates deeply with many teenagers and adults. We are privileged to have a writer of Mr. Asante’s caliber as a member of our community, just as we are privileged to have passionate, committed teachers like Mr. Ober among our faculty.

Sean Conley, Baltimore

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The writer is chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools.

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