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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12/21/13  11:17 am
Commenter: Mary Cumbie, preservice teacher

Please Consider Clarifying or Removing

Thank you so much for allowing the public to comment on this amendment. Though I understand the basic idea behind this amendment and the importance of parents in their students' education, I find this amendment worrisome become it does not specifically clarify what “sensitive” material is: there are people who could argue that books like The Diary of Anne Frank or Elie Wiesel’s Night are sensitive because they deals with the horrific nature of war and the realities of the Holocaust. Marvelous classics dealing with real and hard issues - like Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, and others - may not be studied by students as often for fear that the material covers too many controversial topics and some of the hallmarks of great American Literature may be lost.

What makes a story great is its ability to cause people to think about hard issues in ways they're not used to and come away with a firmer understanding of their own beliefs and why they believe it. "Sensitive" material can be wonderful material because it's sensitive. It's important that what "sensitive" means is defined: otherwise, some of our greatest classics may be neglected and students, parents, and teachers will suffer for it. 
Thank you,
Mary Cumbie
CommentID: 29765