James Baldwin is noticeably absent from public school classrooms


As public school classrooms undergo changes with the new Common Core curriculum, The New York Times featured a piece about how classrooms have ignore the work of famed Harlem writer James Baldwin, who would have been 90 years old this week.



In a year that marks the 90th anniversary of his birth, educators offer different reasons for Baldwin’s faded presence there, from the concern that he is too controversial and complex to the perception that he has been eclipsed by other African-American voices. Collectively the explanations illustrate how attitudes about race have changed, along with the way the high school literary experience has evolved.

“Baldwin is still there, but he’s not there in the way he was,” said Jocelyn A. Chadwick, chairwoman of the secondary level of the National Council of Teachers of English, noting that while in the 1960s and ’70s students would study Baldwin’s essays, short stories and novels in their entirety, today they often encounter his work only in anthologies.


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