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  9:59 am
Commenter: Taylor Snow - Henrico County Public Schools

I strongly oppose this senseless and dangerous regulation

In addition to the obvious risks of censorship and the chilling effect this will have on teacher innovation in the Commonwealth, I feel that it's necessary to point out just how this amendment could rapidly turn into a potentially curriculum crippling slippery slope.  


What langauge in this regulation prevents parents or community members from demanding justification from teachers for every single topic we teach in the course of a given school year?  Will Biology teachers see countless students opting out of lessons on mitosis due to a lack of public understanding as to the nature of cellular evolution?  Will English and history teachers have to defend their teaching of World War II due to pockets of bigoted Holocaust deniers?  

In my history curriculum, EVERY topic has the potential to touch upon controversial or sensitive subjects. The topic of Ancient Rome demands 6 weeks of my instruction and on each day of that instruction we address death, violence, social upheaval, and eventually the collapse of a civilization.  Having to report each ounce of that subject matter to every HCPS stakeholder would inhibit instructional and planning time to such an extent that my job would become far more clerical than instructional.  In short, all of history is "sensitive subject matter"..... LIFE is "sensitive subject matter." 

In closing, I will add the fact that I will always FONDLY remember the English teachers who introduced me to Hemingway, Vonnegut, Salinger, and the like.  Their works (at times riddled with obscenities and so-called "sensitive subject matter) took me from STUDENT to LEARNER.  They made me appreciate reading and history in ways that I had never DREAMED possible.  If this regulation is enacted though, I would imagine that the shear process of having to defend every single potentially objectionable element of the texts would become more work and trouble than many already overworked teachers (our part-time jobs due to years of nary a cost of living adjustment in our paychecks would interfere) would be able to undertake.  I pity the generations of students who would miss out on these opportunities if this regulation is implemented.

CommentID: 30387