Mat-Su School Board to listen to arguments for, against the books they removed from high school curriculum - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, August 7, 2020
HomePoliticsMat-Su School Board to listen to arguments for, against the books they removed from high school curriculum

Mat-Su School Board to listen to arguments for, against the books they removed from high school curriculum

The entire world of news writers seems to think the Mat-Su School District Board has banned five famous books.

School board members have heard from as far away as New York City about the wrongheadedness of their actions. Of course, they only removed the books from the instructed curriculum, not the school libraries. News organizations as far away as London and as close as the Mat-Su have written about the vote taken on April 22 to exclude books from the high school English curriculum.

Tonight, the board will take up an agenda item placed by two school board members who didn’t favor the removal of the books. Board members Sarah Welton and Kelsey Trimmer want to take public testimony on the following books, and the reasons they are no longer part of taught material:

  • “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings” – sexually explicit material, racist messaging.
  • “Catch-22” – racial slurs, scenes of violence against women.
  • “The Invisible Man” – language, rape and incest.
  • “The Things They Carried” — profanity and sexual references.
  • “The Great Gatsby” — language and sexual references.

In accordance with Board policy and Administrative Regulation 6144, controversial issues may continue to be discussed and addressed in the classroom under certain conditions, says Board Chairman Tom Bergey.

“It is the Superintendent or designee (usually the school principal), who has “the authority to judge whether the [those] conditions are being met,” Bergey said.

The regulation provides the Superintendent or designee authority to approve books not listed on a recommended reading list. Board action on April 22 did not alter this authority, he said.

“The School Board did not ban the books, did not preclude their use by teachers, and did not remove the books from school libraries,” Bergey said.

The meeting will take place telephonically and the public is invited to attend. The school board’s meeting starts at 6 pm. The agenda and links to the livestream can be found at this link.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Student don’t need to read… his thing was like a brown corn cob. Or, he came and blamed it on me peeing the bed. Nope, they don’t need it.

    • Really? I want my kids to read this kind of stuff, so if some POS ever tries to abuse them they recognize it, and they speak out without feeling shamed. It’s the same reason I encourage my kids to say penis and vagina instead of “thing,” or “cooch,” or some other word that suggests the real thing is dirty to talk about. Use real language, and communicate real life, so when thing happen our kids have the courage to speak up without feeling shamed. These kids are only a few years from adulthood, and they need to enter the world eyes wide open. It will make them stronger. And if for one minute you think you’re “protecting” kids by hiding this information from them, you’re wrong. Kids that don’t understand sexuality are more likely to be victimized and stay silent about it than kids that have a solid understanding of human sexual behavior, both good and bad. I think this is more about prudish parents than raising healthy kids.

      • Like I said there are ratings for movies for a reason and there should be ratings for books as well.

  • One comment for the school board. It’s called 1st Amendment. Kids need to learn this too.

    • Forgot the punchline. Maybe the school board should study up on the 5th Amendment. Could come in handy for them somewhere down the road.

    • Movies have ratings for a reason. So should school books.

    • So let your kids go to X rated movies then. No big deal right?

      • Greg,
        You should give your kids a little more credit. Once upon a time, I remember buddies and myself huddled in our tree fort, looking at one dad’s playboys. We had so many crammed in our fort, the floor fell out and we went tumbling down the hill. That was the end of our escapades into smut. I don’t know of a single kid that had any interest in X rated movies. It was a lot more fun hunting and fishing. The more you try and prevent a kid from something like that, the more likely curiosity will take them there to see what the big deal is. Better to explain it to them, with advice.

        • So English Lit. Class should hand out Playboys?

          • Not in tree houses!

          • Jay,
            Surely you can’t be that slow.

          • Ah, Ben you’re the slow one. You see the article is about English classes and the purposeful inclusion of raunch in them, not Sex Ed. I’m sure you weren’t up there rocking the tree house with your buddies as part of a book of the month club.

        • Schools need a little more class, no pun intended.

        • More than likely you guys wouldn’t have been able to handle an X rated movie. And that’s ok. That is desirable. but with more exposure, and a Penthouse Forum, maybe you would have, and that would have been a shame.

          • Greg,
            Lots of maybe in life, no matter what direction, ambition, or actual reality.

  • Catch 22 is also an anti war book that focuses on futility of the US Army Air Force bombing campaign against Nazi Germans. Many would say the allied air war ( primarily American airmen and aircraft) is what brought Germany and Japan to their knees in WW2. A war we did NOT begin. The book also focuses on an American officers bizarre attachment to an Italian prostitute and the airmen’s recurring need to seek treatment for syphilis. Hardly worthwhile reading for teenage minds..

  • Can we compare the offending passages in the books with the Sex Education aka Health curriculum taught through all grades?

    • Please don’t confuse biology with smut.

  • So, not knowing about the horrific consequences of aerial bombing and the propensity of young males to seek out persons of the opposite sex, particularly in life threatening, uncertain situations is not something teenage minds need to know about?
    I think the situation in Iraq might prove to be a difficult for that kind of thinking for those young adults who find themselves there.

    • IDK. I’m just concerned about a brown corn cob looking thing laying across a young girl’s leg when she wakes up.

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