“No literary merit in the book”
Last week I wrote an article for this paper that some took as a personal attack. To those individuals, I have apologized. My intent was not to find fault with any one person, program, or institution, but to raise parental and public awareness of the sort of book that is readily available to the youth in our schools. I believe the readers deserve to know the outcome of that effort.
I was chided for several things- that I feel are defensible- but the most significant was for not having followed proper protocol, and for not having kept my concerns more “off the record”. Had my children been attending a private school, I assure you this matter would also have been private. Because they attend a public school, it is reasonable that the public deserves to know what goes on there.
I was given a two-page form to fill out, entitled, “Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials” (italics added). It is so named because the book in question has already been reviewed by a committee and deemed acceptable. In fact, I was told the book would be returned to the shelf.
With a major in English literature and a masters in education with a heavy emphasis in reading, I personally found no literary merit in the book, let alone the obscenities it contained. It was written for a young adult audience, the age group most likely to commit suicide. Do they really need any novel that emphasizes the sordid aspects of life, promoting a feeling of hopelessness?
The school district was disappointed in me for the way I handled the issue. I cannot express how disappointed I am in them. It is one thing to think a book may have slipped through a screening process; it is quite another to know that district administrators have read the book and then knowingly made the decision to return it to the shelf.