|Action||Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials|
|Comment Period||Ends 1/15/2014|
The Virginia Association of Teachers of English (VATE), the state affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English, respectfully disagrees with The Virginia Board of Education's proposed amendment to Item B.1 of section 8 VAC 20-720 of the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia. We strongly object to the language requiring that teachers include "a notice to parents about any sensitive or sexually explicit materials that may be included in the course."
While VATE values the communication between teachers and parents about the content used to satisfy course objectives, the organization also recognizes the professional knowledge of teachers and relies on them to make sound judgments about the literary merit of the texts selected for a course. The language proposed for inclusion not only negates this expertise, but also privileges the concerns of a minority that object to a text on personal or ideological grounds. Denoting materials as "sensitive" or "sexually explicit" is arbitrary, and the application of such terms to literature should not be left open for interpretation by persons who may have limited knowledge of the purpose and intent behind the literature in question.
The study of both literary and non-fiction texts is a process through which students learn to consider the author's craft, diverse perspectives, and a work as a whole rather than separate pieces. Judging a text based on isolated instances of perceived controversial content warrants strong consideration as it limits the scope of reading experiences available to students, undermines the expertise of teachers, and unnecessarily censors materials available in our public schools.
Chuck Miller, Executive Secretary
Kirk Dolson, VATE Past-President
Sarah Crain, VATE President
Tori Otstot, VATE President - Elect
Mary Beth Cancienne, VATE Vice President
Peggy Gearheart, VATE Treasurer
Arleatrice Winters, VATE Sectretary