Agencies | Governor
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 Ends 1/15/2014
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
1/13/14  4:36 pm
Commenter: Rex Gearheart

Increase communication, not censorship.

Please do not add further burdens to teachers, administrators and school boards by passing cumbersome legislation that could drastically limit what can and should be taught and read in our classrooms.  Certainly parents have a right to contribute to curicula, and that includes having a voice regarding what their children read for school assignments.  My understanding is that the proposed legislation stems from parents concerned with a novel on an AP English reading list.  While the material may certainly be quesionable, and perhaps even offensive to some, it would be wholly counterintuitive to place broad sanctions and restrictive mandates on teachers; especially when choosing reading materials for their most advanced and mature students. 

Teachers have an obligation to disclose the materials selected for reading well in advance of their assignment.  School administrators have an obligation to advise their teachers.  Curriculum committees have a venue for discussing, adding and even removing materials, course work, and even classes from their school registers; and school boards serve to govern if their electorate deems it necessary for changes to be made. 

While I am sick of hearing the political phrase "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," it does seem this legislation could set us up for scenarios in which teachers are reluctant to use new and cutting edge materials in their instruction if they risk offending anyone.  Common sense should prevail here in that teachers should indeed describe and even forewarn students and parents of highly questionable content included in literary selections.  Parents should review the materials; and if there are issues parents, teachers, studetns and administrators should discuss and resolve them together.  Teachers should also be willing and open to offer alternate selections or books; and parents and students should consider the level of course content when they sign up for classes to begin with.  AP Engllish is as advanced as it gets, and expecting the literature to resemble anything less than extremely challenging at all levels undermines the rigor and course concepts. 

This has been blown way out of proportion, and I am disappointed with our leadership at every level for even considering this measure.   This bill will not improve public education.

CommentID: 30244