Intellectual Freedom Center
All students have the right to materials and educational experiences that promote open inquiry, critical thinking, diversity in thought and expression, and respect for others.
News and Updates
The updates and news presented here are representative of, but not comprehensive coverage of, NCTE’s ongoing Intellectual Freedom work. Due to the confidential nature of individual cases and our commitment to protecting teachers, items posted are all public in nature.
NCTE in the News
NCTE signs We Believe in the Freedom to Read statement created by PEN America and We Believe. (October 2, 2023)
NCTE was recognized, along with other partner organizations, for best practice guidelines around literacy education in a recently reintroduced bicameral resolution by Representative Raskin and Senator Schatz. (September 27, 2023)
This Story Matters Teacher Corps created to more vigorously expand the book rationale database. (September 2023)
Illinois is a haven against book bans, but advocates say the threat to democracy remains (WBEZ-Chicago, August 31, 2023)
PEN America warns of a growing wave of ‘educational intimidation’ bills (The Hill, August 23, 2023)
How new tactics have driven a spike in book ban attempts (The Hill, July 9, 2023)
NCTE supports the reintroduced Right to Read Act. (April 26,2023)
NCTE Signs Onto Two Statements Condemning Florida House Bill 999: The Effort to Undermine Academic Freedom in Florida House Bill 999 ACLS Statement and the AHA Statement Opposing Florida House Bill 999 (March 3, 2023)
NCTE cosigns the American Council of Learned Societies’ Statement In Support of Academic Freedom and New College of Florida (February 9, 2023)
A bicameral resolution issued by the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate, led by Chairman Raskin and Senator Schatz recognized NCTE as best practice leader on intellectual freedom and condemned the uptick in book bans and education-targeted gag orders. (September 22, 2022)
What Message Do Book Bans Send To Black Students? (The Seattle Medium, September 21, 2022)
Today’s book bans might be more dangerous than those from the past (Washington Post, September 12, 2022)
In 2022, a New Urgency for Banned Books Week (Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2022)
Pushback over diversity in the classroom push teachers out of schools (ABC News, August 31, 2022)
NCTE Intellectual Freedom Fellowship announced (July 13, 2022)
NCTE releases first of it’s kind book rationale database (June 23, 2022)
This Story Matters Campaign launched (June 23, 2022)
Virginia Legal Action Threatens the Freedom to Read (May 18, 2022)
Unite Against Book Bans (national partner with ALA’s initiative, May 9, 2022)
Open Books, Open Doors poster resource (in partnership with School Library Journal, PEN America, the National Coalition Against Censorship, Library Journal, and FReadom, May 2, 2022)
Teachers to culture warriors: Stop treating us as enemies (The Washington Post, March 22,2022)
Freedom to Teach: Statement against Banning Books (released March 15, 2022)
In the Culture Wars, Teachers Are Being Treated Like ‘Enemies’ (Education Week, March 15, 2022)
The Power of Storytelling: A Critical Conversation with George M. Johnson (released March 8, 2022)
Beating back book bans: How to keep a challenge from becoming a crisis (District Administration, February 24, 2022)
Statement on the Doublespeak Award and Anti-Censorship Efforts (February 7, 2022)
Partnership with the National Coalition Against Censorship (January 26, 2021)
Cosigned nonpartisan coalition statement (June 23, 2021)
Fairfax school system pulls two books from libraries after complaints over sexual content (Washington Post, September 28, 2021)
Calls to Ban Books by Black Authors Are Increasing Amid Critical Race Theory Debates (Education Week, September 30, 2021)
Backlash to school books centering on race, sex and LGBTQ people turns into conservative rallying cry (Washington Post, November 12, 2021)
Prize-winning 1619 Project now coming out in book form (Associated Press, November 13, 2021; story picked up by numerous additional outlets)
Fighting Book Bans: A National Teach-In Virtual event (Cosponsored with PEN America, December 15, 2021)
NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Censorship provides anticensorship support by helping to create and update multiple resources, providing Annual Convention sessions, and doing other work related to censorship and book challenges as needed. Here is a summary of some of their recent and upcoming work:
In 2023 the committee
- Will continue to create new rationales for the rationale database.
- Will continue to provide support to teachers that addresses the current storm of censorship, through webinars, sessions at the 2023 Annual Convention, and more.
In 2022 the committee
- Released an updated How to Write a Rationale document and begin adding to our already impressive list of book rationales.
- Continued to provide support to teachers that addresses the current storm of censorship, beginning with a plenary speaker appearance at TCTELA’s annual conference in February 2022.
- Provided free webinars on censorship for state affiliates and NCTE members, in partnership with NCTE staff.
- Selected the 2022 NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award recipients.
- Provided 2022 Annual Convention sessions that directly provided tools and support to teachers.
- In partnership with NCTE leadership, created the Intellectual Freedom Fellowship to fund research on censorship in K–12 English language arts classrooms.
- Created the This Story Matters Teacher Corps in September 2023, thanks to private donations, to more vigorously expand our book rationale database.
- Releases multiple statements against censorship and in support of teachers and their freedom to teach. Links to statements can be found in the News section above.
- Continues to confront school districts and administrators regarding troubling censorship circumstances by signing multiple letters to school districts and administrators opposing the removal of books in tandem with the National Coalition Against Censorship and their partners.
- Responds to urgent requests from NCTE members across the country as quickly as possible. Additionally, we provide access to rationales, policy statements, connections to state affiliate groups, and access to the Free Expression Educators Handbook.
- Released a new rationale database for members in June of 2022 and will work to create and add many additional rationales in the months to come.
- Participates in the annual Banned Books Week celebration as an active member of the Banned Books Week Coalition.