BARRON’S NEEDS REMEDIAL ED

Catalyst September Issue 1997

A few years ago, Barron’s, the famous test-prep company, published a crude excerpt from the work of James Agee in How to Prepare for the ACT (Second Edition). The selection was taken from the late author’s award-winning book, A Death in the Family. The league objected on two grounds: a) the excerpt smacked of anti-Catholicism and b) it was hardly necessary to include it as it was chosen as a reading comprehension test.

Barron’s replied that “it would not consider censoring or withholding an excerpt from a book with such lofty credentials.” But whoever asked them to censor anything? All we suggested was that they find “a more appropriate selection” in the next edition. And while we’re at it, would Barron’s select the most racist portion of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for inclusion in a test of reading comprehension? After all, didn’t Twain also have “lofty credentials”?

Here’s the good news: Barron’s confessed that the selection we objected to will not appear in the next edition.


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Written by Bill