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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1/15/14  8:02 am
Commenter: Lori Miller Kissell, Teacher of Latin

Reject this amendment

While I, as a teacher and parent, understand parental concern for the contents of student education, this amendment is not the way to address these concerns. My problem with it is the deliberate vagueness of the term "controversial." Any topic can be controversial to someone, and having a classroom discussion and exploration of literature, history or science derailed or avoided entirely because of potential parental concern is frightening. Does this mean I need prior approval to discuss Roman slavery, the roles of women, Roman religions and mythology,  warfare and weaponry, medicine, philosophies,views on death and suicide,  dramas and poetry, graffiti, gladiatorial combat, the treatment of animals et cetera et cetera? All of these topics, integral to understanding Roman culture and hence Roman writings, include items controversial to someone but without them students are merely decoding vocabulary not understanding the reading and culture which produced it. 

Parents have always had, and will always have, options in dealing with material they deem (too) controversial. Come to the Open House Night and ask what their students will be learning about. Contact the teacher (phone, e-mail, in person, pin a note to the student) and find out what materials will be presented and studied. Often a conversation about what is being studied and why can clear up the controversy, however I, and all teachers I know, will work with parents to find alternative activities or materials if needed. This amendment is not solving a problem, it's creating them and must be rejected.

CommentID: 30565