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
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1/14/14  11:16 am
Commenter: Dr. Cindy Cunningham, Department Chair of English

REJECT this amendment

I have worked in education for the past twenty years as a teacher of literature and writing. The limitations and regulations that are already binding teachers have often resulted in lower test scores and achievment from students. Our goal in education is to teach students how to think critically about anything they encounter. There is nothing worth reading that does not have some tension or controversy involved; that is the nature of learning.  If we only teach what the students already know, then what's the point?  On the other hand, students also fail to connect with readings that seem too glossy or fluffy; students are savvier than many folks think they are.

The obscenity trial for James Joyce's Ulysses made it pretty clear that "obscene and pornographic" is writing that intends to sexually arouse the reader.  No teacher is going to bring in such writing (or that teacher definitely needs to be dismissed.)    

I always warn my students if there is tough subject matter coming up in a reading. I also warn them if a reading uses language that might offend (although most high school students are well aware of these words--and use them--already.)  I trust that the parents are talking to their students about what they are reading in school.  I know many parents who read the works that are assigned to their students.  I do not choose literature for shock value; I choose it for the lessons within the reading.  If a parent wants to discuss a book or assignment with me, I am open.  I will also offer alternative assignments if asked.

I could write a dissertation on this, so I will just close with my plea that you reject this amendment for the sake of the teachers as well as the students.

CommentID: 30411