Mississippi school district pulls ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ because it ‘makes people uncomfortable’


Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was removed from a Mississippi school district lesson plan because the book’s language made some people feel uneasy.

Administrators at the Biloxi School District announced early this week they were pulling the novel from the 8th-grade curriculum, saying they received complaints that some of the book’s language “makes people uncomfortable.”

The Sun Herald reported that the book was pulled from the lesson plan because the novel contained “the N word.”


A message on the school’s website says “To Kill A Mockingbird” teaches students that compassion and empathy don’t depend upon race or education.

School board vice president Kenny Holloway says other books can teach the same lessons.

However, the book will still be available in Biloxi school libraries.

The novel, published in 1960, chronicled the adventures of Jean Louise Finch aka Scout and her brother Jeremy aka Jem and the racial inequality that existed in their small Alabama town. The book followed a court case their father, Atticus, was involved in.


In the story, Atticus defended Tom Robinson, a black man who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. Despite strong evidence of Robinson’s innocence, he was found guilty of raping Ewell.

The book was adapted into a movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. 

The Sun Herald reported the novel was listed at No. 21 on the American Library Association’s most “banned or challenged books list in the last decade.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Birmingham Islamic faith school guilty of sex discrimination


DemonstrationImage copyright
Southall Black Sisters

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Anti-segregation protestors gathered outside the court at an earlier hearing

An Islamic faith school’s policy of segregating boys and girls is unlawful sex discrimination, a court has ruled.

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal as Ofsted challenged a High Court ruling clearing the Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham of discrimination.

Ofsted’s lawyers argued the segregation left girls “unprepared for life in modern Britain”.

Appeal judges ruled the school was discriminating against its pupils contrary to the Equality Act.

However, the court did not accept the argument the school’s policy had disadvantaged girls more than boys.

The appeal judges also made it clear the government and Ofsted had failed to identify the problem earlier and other schools operating similarly should be given time “to put their houses in order”.

About 20 schools – Islamic, Jewish and Christian – are thought to have similar segregation policies.

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From Year Five boys and girls are completely separated for lessons, breaks, trips and clubs

The three appeal judges heard boys and girls, aged four to 16, attend the Birmingham City Council-maintained Al-Hijrah school, in Bordesley Green.

But from Year Five, boys and girls are completely separated for lessons, breaks, school trips and school clubs.

In 2016, Ofsted ruled the school was inadequate and it was put in special measures, saying its policy of separating the sexes was discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act.

In November, High Court judge Mr Justice Jay overruled the inspectors, saying that they had taken an “erroneous” view on an issue “of considerable public importance”.

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Ofsted’s Amanda Spielman said the policy failed to prepare pupils for life in modern Britain

Speaking after the Court of Appeal ruling Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, said educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex.

“The school is teaching boys and girls entirely separately, making them walk down separate corridors, and keeping them apart at all times,” she said.

“This is discrimination and is wrong. It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom and the workplace, and fails to prepare them for life in modern Britain,” she said.

In the ruling, the appeal judges said Ofsted had made it clear if the appeal succeeded, “it will apply a consistent approach to all similarly organised schools”.

Given their failure to identify the problem earlier, the education secretary and Ofsted had “de facto sanctioned and accepted a state of affairs which is unlawful” and should give the affected schools time to “put their houses in order”, the judges said.

The ruling means state schools which segregate pupils risk being given a lower rating by Ofsted. It only applies to mixed-sex schools.

During the appeal hearing, Peter Oldham QC, speaking for Al-Hijrah’s interim executive board, said the boys and girls at the school were treated entirely equally while segregated.

He said Ofsted did not claim separation was discrimination until 2016 and its actions were “the antithesis of proper public decision-making”.

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Birmingham City Council said the issue was about schools being inspected against unclear policy and guidelines

Birmingham City Council said it took the High Court action it had because it felt Al-Hijrah school had been held to a different standard than other schools with similar arrangements, which had not been downgraded by Ofsted as a consequence.

Colin Diamond, corporate director of children and young people at the Labour-run council, said the case had always been about fairness and consistency in the inspection process.

“We would therefore highlight comments made in this judgement about the secretary of state’s and Ofsted’s ‘failure to identify the problem’,” he said.

He added the council had a strong history of encouraging all schools to practise equality but if it was national policy that schools with gender separation were discriminating against pupils then local authorities and the schools needed to be told so they knew the standards they were being inspected against.

Matt Bennett, shadow cabinet member for children and family services, said the verdict did not reflect well on Al-Hijrah, the council, Ofsted or the DfE.

“It is now clear that practices breaching the Equality Act 2010 have been allowed to continue at this school, and others across the country. Action is now required at local and national level,” he said.


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Cal Thomas: Students at Seattle Law School are being denied a well-rounded education by the free speech police


If it were a plague, the government would rush to quarantine the infected, as occurred during Europe’s Black Death in the 14th century.

An immigration debate at Seattle University School of Law is a plague of a different sort, but deadly in a different way. The victim here is the right to free speech.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Annette Clark, the dean of Seattle University’s Law School, has revoked the school’s sponsorship of a Federalist Society event. The reason? The proposed debate on immigration, hosted by the school’s Access to Justice Institute, might be “harmful” to minority students and “undocumented immigrants,” aka people who broke the law to get to America, though we are not supposed to talk like that these days.

At first I thought it was a joke. It is. But a joke played on those elites who claim to believe in tolerance, academic freedom and inclusion. Dean Clark’s edict reflects her and the school’s intolerance, academic propaganda and exclusion of any view that does not conform to the university’s imposed ideology. Isn’t this the stuff of re-education camps and gulags?

Many college campuses claim devotion to diversity, while practicing and imposing conformity. To them, diversity has to do with skin color, ethnicity and sexual orientation. It is secular liberalism dressed up in different garb. Real diversity would include people of different opinions.

At Seattle U’s Law School, the Federalist Society, a conservative organization that believes in an originalist view of the Constitution, was preparing for an immigration debate. The last I checked a debate is supposed to include opposing points of view. The purpose of a debate is to inform people so they can decide which view is superior to the other. In the ’80s, these were the kinds of debates in which I participated on many college campuses. With only a few exceptions I was granted a respectful hearing, as was my debate opponent. Often we would attend a dinner before the debate, or a reception afterward, where students and faculty could observe us interacting with decorum, humor and mutual respect.

Invitations to college campuses began disappearing in the ’90s and I haven’t had any since. The stories of high-profile speakers being denied the right to speak or shouted down and demonstrated against should they actually make it onto a campus are legion.

The kind of censorship practiced in Seattle is not unique to that school either. It is trending across the country. Increasingly, campuses have become “safe spaces” so that “snowflakes” will not be troubled by ideas that rattle their still developing brains, which should, instead of stagnating, constantly evolve. If they think they already know everything, why spend time and money going to college?

The greater question is this: Why do so many parents, especially conservative parents, send their children to schools that undermine their faith and values, distort history and promote causes that will not help them get a job once they graduate? A corollary question: Why do students take on so much debt to attend universities where their “consciences” might be raised on the liberal side, but where they are shielded from what real life looks like?

Nat Hentoff, the late liberal journalist and social critic, said the answer to speech you don’t like is not less speech, but more speech. The students at Seattle Law School are being denied a well-rounded education by the speech and thought police. Students should demand that a portion of their tuition be refunded and the federal government should consider denying tax subsidies to institutions of “higher learning” that practice censorship.


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ParentPay website unavailable for school meal payments


Children being served school mealsImage copyright
Getty Images

The website of payment firm ParentPay has gone down, leaving some parents unable to transfer funds for school meals and trips.

The company normally serves more than 5,500 schools in 200 local authorities, helping about 1.5 million families.

The company said it was affected “by a national internet connectivity issue – impacting some users. This is out of our control and we’ll update you.”

Some parents said their children were unable to buy food due to the glitch.

ParentPay said payments had been suspended until the issue was resolved.

Some parents reported being able to make transactions on Tuesday evening, but the company told the BBC the issue was not yet fixed and there was no timescale for when it would be.


One parent, Victoria Lew, said on Twitter she had been trying to access her account for two hours.

“What do [the] kids do for lunch?” she asked, adding that she had been unable to get through to the company on the phone.

Charlotte Banks said on Facebook that neither of her sons had been able to buy food.

“This is getting ridiculous now. Seems to be every few days there are issues with this site,” she said.

People also expressed scepticism about the company’s explanation for the outage.

Heidi Burrows said: “The only company who appears to have national internet connectivity are ParentPay, so I think you may want to adjust your wording as many of us work in big firms relying on internet and no one else is having this issue!”

What is ParentPay?

  • An online payment system for schools, allowing parents to pay for meals, trips and activities, uniforms, music lessons and fees
  • Parents top up their ParentPay account by debit or credit card, or in cash through PayPoint stores
  • The system can send alerts when a child’s catering balance is running low
  • Schools can also use it to send emails, texts and newsletters to parents


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