Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing Local School Boards and School Divisions [8 VAC 20 ‑ 720]
Action Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials
Comment Period Ended on 1/15/2014
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1/7/14  5:13 pm
Commenter: Charlotte Wellen, Albemarle County Public Schools

Reject Change in Regulations

This regulation would just countermand the censorship regulations already in place in our county, which are very clear and very fair.  Families who want to censor a book must give their reasons to the school board and the book must be put on public display for members of the public to view it and form an opinion about it before getting a chance to publically comment on it before the school board makes a decision about it.  This is very pro-active for parents, yet maintains enough time and space for the rest of the public to become involved in the decision.


This regulation goes around that process.  Before teachers in our school read anything as a class that has controversial material in it, we always have a form approved by our principal.  The form includes national/statewide reviews of the book, and justifications for choosing it to be read.  We have never had one of our classroom book choices challenged by a parent.  We once had a parent challenge our permission for a student to read a book he had picked out on his own to read individually.  The book opened with a scene in which the main character is rescued after having his testicles bitten by a black widow spider in an outhouse.  The brother of the character carries him five miles to the hospital.  The characters refer to this incident throughout the novel and the black widow itself is referred to as a mythological symbol that is important to an understanding of the themes of the novel.  This novel has won many national and international awards for its treatment of the American Indians' poverty on the reservations, and their torn loyalties, to their relatives, to their tribes, to their religious beliefs, and to the United States.  It is well worth studying, but with the changes you are suggesting, it would invite the criticism of parents, to wonder why this book was being read.


Thanks, C. Wellen

CommentID: 29889