Lawmaker Wants to Ban Books by Howard Zinn

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) – A Republican lawmaker in Arkansas filed a bill last week that would ban from public schools books by or about the late historian, political scientist and writer Howard Zinn.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, on Thursday and referred to the House Committee on Education, as first reported by the Arkansas Times.

Zinn, who died in 2010, is the author of “A People’s History of the United States,” a best-selling and progressive look at American history through the lens of minority and low-income workers.

Hendren’s bill urges publicly funded school districts to “not include in its curriculum or course materials for a class or program of study any book or other material authored by Howard Zinn from the years 1959 through 2010.”

The Zinn Education Project said 400 requests for “A People’s History of the United States” have been made by librarians and middle and high school teachers as of Sunday. The organization is offering free copies to Arkansas educators.

Hendren told the libertarian magazine Reason on Friday that his constituents raised “concerns about some of the approaches that Howard Zinn has taken to history in the books he’s written.”

“My basic personal philosophy is I think we ought to be open to hearing both sides of the situation and then try to do what’s best for ourselves and our country. That’s what will happen with this bill,” Hendren said.

The bill would apply only to elementary and secondary schools, not public colleges.

In 2010, then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels attempted a similar ban of Zinn’s work from classrooms, according to emails uncovered in an AP report.

Hendren, 79, represents the northwest portion of the state and is also the brother-in-law of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. He is serving his third term in the Arkansas Legislature and has previously served in the Arkansas Senate, according to his member website.

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