|Action||Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials|
|Comment Period||Ends 1/15/2014|
Written works prepare students for the real world.
I am an 8th grade English teacher in rural Virginia. Since I was made aware of this forum, I have been attempting to eloquently write my thoughts. Today, I read an article by an author that truly says what I've been feeling. I hope you will take the time to consider the words of author, Pat Conroy.
"Novels contain scenes of violence, but I was the son of a Marine Corps fighter pilot who killed hundreds of men in Korea, beat my mother and his seven kids whenever he felt like it, and fought in three wars. My youngest brother, Tom, committed suicide by jumping off a fourteen-story building; my French teacher ended her life with a pistol; my aunt was brutally raped in Atlanta; eight of my classmates at The Citadel were killed in Vietnam; and my best friend was killed in a car wreck in Mississippi last summer. Violence has always been a part of my world. I write about it in my books and make no apology to anyone. In Beach Music, I wrote about the Holocaust and lack the literary powers to make that historical event anything other than grotesque. People cuss in my books. People cuss in my real life.
"The world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave anything out. I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language. Because of them I rode with Don Quixote and danced with Anna Karenina at a ball in St. Petersburg and lassoed a steer in Lonesome Dove and had nightmares about slavery in Beloved and walked the streets of Dublin in Ulysses and made up a hundred stories in The Arabian Nights and saw my mother killed by a baseball in A Prayer for Owen Meany. I've been in ten thousand cities and have introduced myself to a hundred thousand strangers in my exuberant reading career, all because I listened to my fabulous English teachers and soaked up every single thing those magnificent men and women had to give. I cherish and praise them and thank them for finding me when I was a boy and presenting me with the precious gift of the English language."
Please trust the teachers of Virginia to choose resources. This shouldn't be a battle between us (educators) and them (parents). It should be a joint effort to expose students to the world with appropriate guidance.