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  9:35 am
Commenter: Andrew Beale, Parent

Support this Amendment and support age-appropriate material in the classroom

This amendment isn't about censorship, or burning books, or preventing teachers from effectively educating our children.  It's about ensuring the material used to educate our children is age appropriate.  The Motion Picture Association of America created guidelines to rate movies; one rating is NC-17, which means "No one 17 and under admitted."  This rating, according to MPAA, is reserved for material that "most parents would consider patently too adult for their children."  Is this censorship?  I don't think so and I think most parents would agree with me. While I don't suggest a formal rating system for books, the same logic should apply.  Come up with a standard with which "most parents could agree" and prohibit material that doesn't meet that standard.  There will always be a debate on how "sensitive" is defined or what material should be considered "sexually explicit" but that doesn't mean we should ignore the issue entirely.  I fully realize that older teens are aware that child molestation, rape, murder, et al occur but there is no need to have such graphic detail involved to have an effective discussion.

I read quite a few comments from teachers that want this amendment rejected.  This should not be about teachers and the sanctity of their profession.  Overall, they do an outstanding job with limited resources, but it’s not about them.  This should also not be about parents lacking trust in the judgment of their children's teachers.  Parents do trust schools and teachers and prove that by sending their children to school every day, but it should never be a blind trust.  “Trust, but verify” is a more appropriate route to take.  Schools need parents involved in the education of their children.  One only has to view the low graduation rates of high schools where parent participation is nearly non-existent.  While important, the teacher-student relationship is not preeminent over the parent-child relationship but rather the opposite is true.  Therefore, the position that most parents are taking in this argument (support for this amendment) should heavily influence the board’s decision.

Finally, for those suggesting that “parents who don’t trust the judgment of their children’s teachers should enroll them in private school or educate them at home,” I would be more than happy to do so if that relieves me of the percentage of my state and local tax burden which goes to support the public schools I would no longer be using.  Since I don’t believe the latter will occur, I will continue to support age appropriate material in the classroom, taught by teachers compensated with taxes paid by many concerned and involved parents, including myself.

CommentID: 30381