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* Bravo, from a Christian conservative :>)

Posted By: Susan Williams on August 2, 2005
There's such a difference between censorship and quality selection of literature. I took our middle-school English teachers to task several years ago over their selection of these four books for seventh-grade English: "The Giver," "Killing Mr. Griffin," "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" and "The Devil's Arithmetic." That was it for assigned reading for these high-achieving, suburban young teens. I couldn't believe there were no classics at all. These books were all politically-tinged, emotionally-explosive, written by women within the last 20 years, and devoid of enduring value. The English department included a couple of very radical women who used their classrooms as a soapbox for bashing the U.S., one very nice but passive man, and a woman who had been brought to the district because of a federal grant for at-risk adolescents, but had no experience teaching English and could barely write herself. I assembled a group of other parents who felt as I did, and presented the school with a mountain of book reviews and other evidence, and a list with hundreds of other books we'd rather see assigned. I didn't even ask them to get rid of those four books, but to triple or quadruple the number of books studied so that some great books could be added to the curriculum. What happened? I was painted as an enemy, a zealot and a censor -- pretty disappointing, since I was an alumna of that school district -- which used to have a pretty great English curriculum -- and had served in a number of volunteer capacities, including raising $10,000 in a telethon and $5,000 from ads in a school directory. The fear and defensiveness on the part of school officials were palpable. All they agreed to do was get rid of "Killing Mr. Griffin," since it displayed how to kill a teacher. Duhhh! They made the curriculum even scantier, in other words, instead of richer and deeper, as we had wanted. It's no wonder that those same kids went on to high school and seriously under-achieved in their English classes and SATs and ACTs. Garbage in, garbage out, is all I can say. Next time a parent comes to an educator with a concern about a book, I hope real communication takes place, and the best interests of the kids takes precedence over pride, politics and power.
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 Bravo, from a Christian conservative :>) by Susan Williams on August 2, 2005  * 
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