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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1/14/14  2:43 pm
Commenter: Leah Deel

Opposed to an Amendment that Would Be Subjective

Identifying a text as one that contains potentially explicit or sensitive subject matter is a subjective decision.  We, as educators, do not need to make those decisions for students.  Students need to read age appropriate literature and decide for themselves what their reaction may be.   

I’ve always been against “banning” age appropriate literature.  (And I believe Beloved is definitely appropriate for an AP 12).  We can’t hide our heads in the sand and pretend that if we hide from the ‘bad’ stuff then it doesn’t exist.  Literature that moves you to think and consider, even uncomfortable situations, is how education happens. 

Parents and teachers need to work as a unit, striving for the best education possible for each child.  This relationship, however, only works if there is mutual trust.  Parents need to trust teachers to select material because they believe it to be educationally beneficial; teachers need to trust parents to support those decisions and discuss this literature at home so that the student can better internalize and cope with any uncomfortable situations.

I urge you not to pass this amendment.  This sort of stipulation is too subjective and personal interpretation can be as confusing as it is dangerous. Personal interpretation once put the dictionary on a school's banned book list in California because it contained sexual language. Show a vote of confidence in a teacher's decision making ability by not forcing them to attempt to decide if the dictionary needs to be listed with a disclaimer. 

CommentID: 30470