ENID, Okla. (AP) -- Months of discussion and debate over "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" have concluded with the novel remaining as required reading in Enid High School's American literature classes.
The book, written in 1885 by Mark Twain, is required reading for Enid juniors and will stay that way as a result of a 7-0 vote Monday night by the school board. Students or parents upset with the book can request reading an alternate book.
With its vote, the board rejected a recommendation from its textbook review committee to restrict the book to students taking advanced American literature classes.
"That is such a slippery slope," board member David Meara said. "What do we find next that is offensive?"
The board decided that teachers would receive training on the novel and consider other books that will add cultural diversity to the high school's language arts curriculum. Plans call for Jocelyn Chadwick, a Mark Twain scholar from Harvard University, to train teachers in August.
Chadwick, who is black, came to Enid earlier this month and encouraged the board to keep the book in its curriculum. But she said students should be taught a background of the book and that Twain wrote it to criticize slavery.
A group of local black ministers had asked last fall that the book be dropped as required reading. They said it was offensive and degrading to black students.
The Rev. Alfred Baldwin Jr., president of the Southern Ministerial Alliance, said the group will accept the board's decision. But he was disappointed that he and others opposed to the book were not allowed to speak before the board voted, he said.
Board member Bill Grimes made a motion to accept the textbook committee's recommendation to restrict the book. It failed, 6-1.
"If there are those who feel it is offensive, it should be their option, not a mandatory requirement," Grimes said.