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  8:23 pm
Commenter: Meghann Donohue

No to Amendment Re: Sensitive Material

As an English teacher of 10 years, and a parent of two young kids, I understand how this amendment may look like a good way to protect our kids.  However, what you are really doing is limiting teacher choice, sheltering kids in an unhealthy manner, and sending parents and the community a message that teachers are not to be trusted.

Whether you believe this would be the outcome or not, you have to agree that the word "sensitive" as in "sensitive material" is subjective at best.  What is offensive, objectionable or disturbing to some may be just fine for others.  I know there are people, for example, that object to the use of the Lord's name in vain within literature.  That is their right  - but that is never something that I would think to identify as "sensitive."  Does that put me in a liable situation if I did not identify it in advance?  How can I possibly predict everyone's reactions to what they read? 

The subjectivity of this is SO present, I don't know how you think it could be monitored and enforced.  Would it really only be used as an identifier for teachers who have other issues?  Would you only use it to try to force out teachers who aren't teaching the way a governing agency approves of?  Does anyone else see the potential for censorship here?  Does anyone else see how this leaves us open to the most restrictive environment instead of one that allows free discussion, open minds, and higher-level ideas?

I understand the instinct to protect our children, but I have serious concerns about this policy, and the doors that this policy would open.  Please consider this a vote against the possible regulation.

CommentID: 29668