Monday, January 23, 2012

Huzzah! Reason has prevailed in my school district!


So, my school district has made national news... again. A recent candidate for school board -- Mike Dame -- and his wife decided to cause a hullabaloo. I think he was just upset because he LOST the election, but I don't have any proof of that.

Ahem.

Anyway, they are up-in-arms because of two books being taught in their daughter's English class. They believe the content of these books is obscene and inappropriate for our schoolchildren, and should be not be taught.

So, when Mrs. Dame came to this conclusion, do you think she went and spoke to her daughter's teacher? Or even her daughter's school principal?

Nope -- she went straight to the Superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Hughes, a fellow who just started his new job in September. She read him out-of-context excerpts from the books in question, and then asked him to respond.

And what did HE do? Maybe...um... following school policy for reviewing curriculum? NOPE. He called the teacher and told him to stop teaching the books.

Oh... did I mention the class? Advanced Placement English Literature. Yes. A class for college-bound high school Juniors and Seniors. They are supposed to be reading college-level fiction.

Oh... and did I mention the books? Both are award-winning novels: Beloved by Toni Morrison and Waterland by Graham Swift.
 

I haven't read this, but it's now on my "to read" list!
I read this back in the early '90s, and LOVED it.

 Geez. What decade is this? Banning books? Really. REALLY????

Well... these two parents sure did cause a ruckus. An emergency meeting was called. Over 100 parents and students showed up... standing room only.

And guess what? Almost everyone who spoke defended keeping the books. Defended our students' rights to READ and THINK.

Hallelujah.

The committee assigned to review the objection recently decided that Beloved is acceptable for the class curriculum, and is still reviewing Waterland (I'm guessing they required the entire committee to READ the books before passing judgement... imagine that!).

As for this fellow and his wife who started this witch hunt? Well, I think he showed his true colors at the hearing. If we didn't already question Mr. Dame's motives, he announced, "if any of this was offensive to Allah or the Hindus it would never be in our school district." By the way... my school district has a large number of Indian (as in from India) and Muslim students. His comments sound a little prejudice to you? Ya, me too.

But I'll leave you on a positive note. Here's what high school Senior said after taking the class where he read the "controversial" books, as quoted from the Patch.com:

Matthew Bugajski, a senior at Plymouth High School who read Waterland in AP English during his junior year, said he never had issues with other classmates or teachers imposing something he and his peers felt was uncomfortable.
He said students who take AP English treat the class as a college course.
"If we're treated like children, how do we expect to be treated in class?"
He said Waterland was "one of the most inspiring" books he's ever read that prompted intelligent discussions.
"This is not vulgar," he said. "This is not pornographic. This is literature and art and it should be treated as such."
Amen.

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