Dearborn school board meeting shows value of active citizenship

Parents in Dearborn believe in the future and their ability to decide it

The public’s voice will be heard.

A Dearborn school board meeting was suspended Monday night after members cited concerns about crowd size, fire safety, and the crowd’s behavior. The meeting will be resumed Thursday in a high school auditorium.

“We can have a spirited debate but we can’t conduct ourselves this way,” said Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin, as quoted in The Detroit News.

The crowd was unruly because of several books in the school library, which critics argue are inappropriate in a school setting. At issue, the Detroit Free Press reports, is seven books:

  • “Push” by Sapphire
  • “All Boys Aren't Blue” by George M. Johnson
  • “And They Lived” by Steven Salvatore
  • “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold
  • “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell
  • “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston
  • “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson

The books have been pulled from shelves and their future in the district is under review. But many irate parents are asking how they got there in the first place, and what’s to keep others from taking their place.

News accounts focused on the tensions of the Monday night meeting, and the most extreme rhetoric. The News reports that “the meeting room was filled with handmade signs such as ‘Stop grooming our kids’ and ‘Keep your dirty books in the closet.’”

These are the details that make stories interesting. Stories about parental rights are hot right now.

But what’s more important is that people showed up, and spoke up. This is what active citizenship looks like. It can be loud, and it can be messy. It beats the default alternative, which is apathy.

The Dearborn school board fled its post on Monday, but will have to show its face eventually. With an election coming next month, Thursday night might be a good time to resume this discussion.

Parents in Dearborn are speaking their voice, and their voices are traveling around the world. They believe in the future and their ability to decide it. Can your community say the same?

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.