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
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
1/10/14  8:14 am
Commenter: Honors English Teacher


Something like this passage, running in to the pasture the boys came upon the cows they were going to abuse, does not deserve attention in a public high school English class.   This cogent intellectual proposal:  "Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials" should definitely pass. "Come now, and let us reason together."  We are concerned about educating our teenage children, not adults.  Educators and parents have many choices; teenage high school students have few choices.  Like it, or not, the students are under the authority of their teachers in school.  Their teachers can choose high or low literary writings with moral or immoral contents. 

Within the English curriculum, the teachers have options.  For example, expectations in General English in each grade level are different from  Honors English and A P English.  The reading choices are commensurate with the students' maturity levels. Consider Blum's Taxonomy. 

Our students deserve the highest academic standards.  Do teachers choose to teach high, moral standards or sensational, deviant exploits in literature? 

Some teacher choices demonstrate a particular bias and are simply not age appropriate; therefore, the parents should have the right to opt out their children all across Virginia without ridicule.  After all, this is a public school education paid for by these parents.  The "educational  professionals" work for the citizenry. 

With hormones bouncing off the classroom walls, our students do not need detailed descriptions of deviant sexual behavior, incest, sadistic masochism, rape, voyeurism, pedophilia or bestiality graphically depicted in some teachers' choices.  Instead, choose writings on a higher moral level;  there are plenty to choose from that illicit Elements of Style.  Segments of society have standards, rules and laws.  What about movies with their ratings or T V with restrictions on advertising and words voiced on air?  Fair-minded people would consider a continuation of such standards in the classrooms with clearly notified opt out procedures for parents and their teenagers.  This amendment  covers and clarifies this. 

As a teacher, I respect those teachers who desire  freedom in the classroom;  those who want to teach the books they want to teach.  However, I also know,  it takes more understanding and effort to teach one book to some students and another book for opt out students.  Yes, the burden is on the teachers.  Teachers are there for the students and the focus should be on the students, not the teachers.  Working with some teachers who are lazy and do not want the extra work evidences their many negative  responses.  If an A P book list has  twenty-five  fiction books on it, be assured I will read every one of them before choosing which ones to teach in class.  The Department of Education in Virginia provides for the individual freedom of students opting out; and, therefore, teachers should prepare their lesson plans accordingly. 

When this issue comes right down to it, it seems it is a matter of differing world views.  I'm pleading for discretion on both sides.  It is a great privilege to teach greatness.  And, I for one, will teach for the better good "tilll the cow comes home"! 

CommentID: 29948