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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12/17/13  9:33 am
Commenter: Margaret Thornton, Charlottesville High School

Strengthen Schools and Give Students Choices

Many of my students, who are about to enter college or the workplace, do not like to read. Somewhere, something happened to them that turned off the curiosity switch that every human is born with in the on position. They come into my classroom telling me, subtlely and overtly, that English class is not a place they plan to succeed. 

Friday we began class as we always do: reading a book of our choice. Everyone was quiet. Nary a cellphone was out. I had on my hands a gaggle of anti-readers turned readers. Why the change? Because we give them choices. We give them a space where they can explore and ask questions and wonder. I cannot send home a syllabus with every book that a student might choose to read any more than I can name every star in the sky. And I shouldn't have to. School is a safe place to fall down, get back up, question why you fell in the first place, and keep going. Giving students and teachers the opportunity to make choices about their interests and questions will strengthen public education in the Commonwealth. 

Parents who are involved enough to talk to their children and teachers about what they are reading will also help stregthen our schools. This proposed change takes away everyone's agency to do that. Please reject it. 

Thank you for your time. 

CommentID: 29637