The Flagler County School Board is not banning books–yet. But two board members–Jill Woolbright and Janet McDonald–are on the warpath, playing up isolated complaints about materials they find objectional on ideological grounds and mirroring similar attempts in other districts where a few voices have capitalized on largely manufactured controversies. The board members’ moves parallel a national extremist organization’s inquiry in Flagler and other Florida counties about the district’s book holdings, especially targeting racially-conscious and LGBTQ-themed books.
The moves point to what may be a new front in the already charged political atmosphere as cultural issues under the guise of “parental rights” and educational materials become fodder for debates about how much a school district may or must control what students read, and according to what criteria.
A single complaint by a one parent about a fifth-grade English workbook that referred to Black Lives Matter in a few paragraphs, and that wasn’t part of any assigned work, led Woolbright and McDonald at a workshop this week to raise questions about how such a passage was allowed to be part of instructional materials and whether there is a “vetting” process to prevent students from having to see such “point of view” excerpts. (See the full passage at the foot of the article.)
The parent, Kristy Furnari, who is part of an advisory group that works with the district on Exceptional Student Education, also wrote Sheriff Rick Staly about the same passage, claiming, inaccurately, that it bore “an insidious anti-police message camouflaged in a seemingly innocuous story about protesting for BLM,” and that she was seeking to have the material removed. Her email to school board members similarly mischaracterized or made false claims about other passages in the booklet that dealt with the nation’s capital, the Constitution, voting rights and “centralized” government.
Furnari’s objection to that particular booklet mirrors similar objections in the Sarasota and Martin County school districts, which also either pulled the booklet or replaced the Black Lives Matter passage three weeks ago. The similarities suggest either coordinated or copycat efforts are under way to assail school curricula based on content–specifically content that gives voice to minorities and Blacks in particular. Studies have long documented the dearth of minority representation in American textbooks, a dearth some publishing houses are attempting to address.
Similarly, a group called the Pacific Justice Institute, saying it represents the Florida Citizens Alliance–the group that pressured Gov. Ron DeSantis to “remove” critical race theory from schools–provided a list of 58 book titles to the Flagler County school district and demanded to know whether any of the titles were in any of the district’s nine public school libraries, whether any titles are used in any classroom as part of any curriculum, the number of copies available to students, and at which schools. The books’ themes are all either focused on LGBTQ issues or race issues, including Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings, with the odd title by Jodi Picoult, the hugely popular writer among teens whose themes, including school shootings, make some parents nervous. (See the Institutes public record request and the full list of books it inquired about.)
The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Pacific Justice Institute an anti-LGBT hate group and an extremist group founded in 1997 by Brad Dacus. “PJI and Dacus have compared legalized gay marriage to Hitler and the Nazis’ ascent in Germany; endorsed so-called “reparative” or sexual orientation conversion therapy,” writes SPLC in its summary profile of the organization, “claimed marriage equality would lead to legal polygamy and incest; fought against protections for trans children and fabricated a story of harassment by a trans student; and said that LGBT History Month promotes gay pornography to children.”
The same public record request went to several other school districts in Florida, again reflecting an orchestrated approach that then leads to more targeted actions locally. Flagler schools complied with the request. The district was also subsequently faced with a few in-0person requests by individuals seeking to inspect the library shelves at Flagler Palm Coast High School’s media center. They were turned away due to Covid protocols in place (and because members of the community cannot willy-nilly wander a school’s library during school hours, or without a district escort.)
Woolbright at the workshop Tuesday, when she raised the Furnari objections, also sought to have a filtering process for books and materials in school media centers.
“Where did the books come from? who approves the list? Are there approved lists by grade level? Are they by elementary, middle and high or do they cross over? Is there a rubric of accountability for the purchases?” Woolbright asked, wanting a “handbook” that would lay it all out. She also asked whether a book was ever banned, and referred to “people” who were not given access to a media center.
“I think it would be really good that we do have that being presented to us and us approve a procedure handbook for Media Center specialists, just to protect our people,” Woolbright said. She and McDonald wanted to workshop the matter in the near future.
“I’ll tell you, maybe I look at this a little differently,” Board Chairman Trevor Tucker said. “Any printed material the student reads–I actually want every type of printed material possible. I’d like students to read everything and anything, whether I agree with it or not. The more someone reads, the more ideas you find, whether you agree with them or not. I just personally think that I do not like going down a road where I’m thinking about a library or media specialist or anybody saying, this is the list of books we can have, this is the list of books we can’t have. I hate that idea, personally. But if we would like to have a workshop on it, I’m okay with it.”
Board member Colleen Conklin called it a “slippery slope” and Cheryl Massaro called it “censorship,” but Tucker agreed to the workshop only for discussion’s sake, if not to contradict his statement about ideas.
The issue of the Black Lives Matter passage in the fifth-grade booklet, and other passages Furnari found objectionable, was also brought up by Woolbright, who appeared to rephrase almost word for word Furnari’s email, with the same inaccuracies or mischaracterizations.
The booklet is published by Benchmark Education, a New Rochelle, N.Y.-based publishing company focused on K-6 English and Spanish language instruction.
“This was a state adopted list, and it’s difficult to get on that list to be approved,” LaShakia Moore, the district’s director of teaching and learning, said in an interview.
The state provides a long list of adopted materials to districts, which then select from that list. That particular booklet was approved for fifth grade across the district. It’s been used for just this year. There had been no issues in school. It was brought by “one parent that brought it to my attention,” Moore said, referring to the Furnari email. None other, though Woolbright claimed there’d been others, including social media, but she didn’t specify. (Often a post on social media that may get comments or likes then translates as “many people” in the parlance of public officials who have no other evidence.)
Any parent who would want her child not to be exposed to any resource has that right. The child will not have to read or work from that resource, Moore said. But she noted that the Black Lives Matter passage at the heart of the controversy had not even been assigned.
The booklet, “The U.S. Constitution: Then and Now” is intended to improve reading and comprehension skills. It uses the Constitution and its history as a framework, to make the material more relevant to students. Its verbiage is standard, unremarkable and, at least in consensus scholarship, uncontested history, unless refracted through an ideological lens that may say more about the reader than the content.
Furnari claimed “The first page is advocating for DC to become a state, which happens to be what Democrats were advocating for just this year.” The statement is false: there is no such advocacy. The booklet notes that D.C. residents pay taxes but have no representation in Congress, which is accurate, and that they have been motivated to make the district a state–an effort that goes back at least to the late 19th century.
Furnari claims a certain paragraph “advocates for a strong centralized federal government. Also the preference of the Democratic Party.” The statement is an anachronistically gross misreading of the booklet’s text and reflects an outright misunderstanding of the period, which refers to the aims of the founders to replace the impotent Continental Congress with a stronger federal government, hence the Constitution outlining that government’s power. There were no Democrats at the time. Those who favored the centralized government were Federalists, like Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and John Marshall, whose 34 years as Chief Justice defined the supremacy of federal power.
The men would far more closely align with conservatives today than with liberals. The email includes an equally false statement that the Constitution was “neutral,” not “biased,” though it denied the right to vote to all but white, land-owning men. The objection to the Black Lives Matter text eventually follows in the email before the demand that the material be removed “immediately.”
Furnari’s ire was sharpest against Black Lives Matter, which she described as a “political organization” (a falsehood: reactionary disinformation aside, the organization is a non-profit that neither runs candidates nor endorses them from its expressly decentralized structure). The organization, Furnari complained, “should not be pushed on in schools as some benevolent group.”
Woolbright repeated the inaccuracy about “centralized government, “which is not what everyone in the country wants,” and cited other passages, though the Black Lives Matter part rankled her most because, she said, children haven’t yet “learned to discern between the source of the information or biases or different points of view. So the fifth graders would take this as the gospel truth. So this was just one side, was my concern, and the parent caught this, not any of our staff.”
“I don’t think that that is completely accurate,” Moore said. “It’s not that staff was not aware of the text being there, but because it’s not text that we were using. It was not something for them to bring alarm to, because it wasn’t text that was a part of what we were going to use to teach the standard.”
Woolbright described the passage as “controversial” and, in an apparent echo of the reactions of the two other school districts in the state, as a violation of “a charge from our governor that we will not have critical race theory in our schools and so people are hypersensitive to this stuff.” She wanted the texts vetted.
McDonald was equally alarmed, saying “there’s a time and place for talking about social issues, but it’s not in language arts and it’s not in math and it’s not in the student skill time when they’re trying to learn study skills.” That approach would preclude Huckleberry Finn or The Grapes of Wrath or any Faulkner or Sylvia Plath in English classes–or Fahrenheit 451–since each in one way or another intersects with searing social, class, racial or mental health issues. McDonald wanted teachers “pre-reading and pre evaluating those materials and talking with people in their building to make sure that they’re really driving the curricular issues, rather than any of the other embedded messages that are there.”
“We have to have vigilance at the local level,” McDonald said. “When you weave it together, that’s part of the violation of the learning space.” She spoke of other “alarming,” but unspecified issues with materials available in virtual environments.
In fact, The district has a process in place for all the curriculum materials to be vetted, Moore said. Some supplemental materials, like the one in question, might not go through the same process. But literacy coaches go through the resources, decide which parts to use and which not. “It does give us an opportunity to get a closer look at the resources that we may not have known more intimately in our adoption period,” Moore said. “With any resource that we adopt there are going to be parts of it that we will use and parts of it that we will not use.” Moore said that the BLM passage was not used.
The board, including Woolbright and McDonald, had no issue with the district’s responsiveness to parents who raised objections, though that appears to be an extremely rare, outlying–and, as the case may be, possibly politically motivated–occasion.
Conklin, who had listened to most of the discussion silently, was in disbelief when she did speak. “It’s got nothing to do with critical race theory, if people know what critical race theory is, that has nothing to do with that,” she said of the Black Lives Matter passage. But she also wanted to share the perspective of a man she referred to as “a leader in the African American community” locally. She’d asked him to give his opinion on the passage.
“This is exactly what he shared,” she said, without identifying the man by name, “is that ‘As a 43 year old Black male who was educated in public education, and has spent 20-plus years working in public education, this is probably the very first time that I’ve seen relatable content to this extent. It’s really good in the fact that it is current. It’s relevant and rigorous. But I also know and recognize that as much as we need prompts like this, some may not be ready for them. In my eyes, this passage is comparable to ones written about the Holocaust and treatment of Jews. But for some reason, we can view them drastically differently. I’m concerned with the attempt to erase history and erase the present events of our country. It’s troubling and scary.”
Conklin was reading the words of Tim King, who had been one of the district’s top administrators until 2020, when he left after four years as the director of Exceptional Student Education.
“And I will say this,” Conklin said, “that this whole conversation is very concerning to me.” She noted the elimination of the word “equity” from the district’s goals, which the board had agreed to earlier in that same meeting. “It is extremely disappointing that one, we’re having a conversation about eliminating the possibility of a variety of texts for students to read. Are we going to get to book banning? Are we going to whitewash every single thing that our students read and take in an experience and review and analyze? This is very concerning to me because it sounds like this whole conversation has been hijacked by an extremist population of our community. And I don’t think it’s reflective of the larger part of our community. All I would say to you is, listening to these conversations, if you were a member of some of those subgroups, I just wonder what that impression would be the one message that sends.”
She added: “I am just, I’m shocked and disappointed. And frankly absolutely disgusted by the whole thing.”
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
I will never support any dogma that promotes hatred against any race, and that is what CRT is. You can’t unite children by teaching them to view each other according to the color of their skin, or to assign guilt to someone because of shameful things that other people did centuries ago. I am not alone in my thinking.
Next McDonald and Woolbright will be forming the 21st century version of the 1950’s White Citizens’ Councils.
Bill C says
CRT isn’t even taught in Florida schools. This rejection of CRT is a sham argument. The dogma you are talking about is your own. Children first learn “dogma that promotes hatred” in the home.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
It’s a lot easier to prevent something as hateful as CRT to enter the schools than to wait till it has already seeped its way into the system. Then it’s nearly impossible to remove. I stick with what Dr. King always said, that he didn’t want little children to be judged on the color of their skin. That’s what CRT espouses. I, for one, will not apologize for what someone else did centuries or even decades ago, and although none of my ancestors had any connection to slavery, those whose ancestors did, are not obligated to atone for those people’s sins. How far back are we supposed to go in our apologies? The Stone Age?
What do you think makes CRT hateful? And what makes you think it’s seeping into schools? This is what happens when political groups use fear for propaganda. Nobody is asking you or anyone else to apologize about your skin color or race. The main point of this article actually has nothing to do with CRT. This article is about two very out of touch school board members wanting to remove certain books from media centers, not the curriculum, because the mention certain topics. Is that what you really want? Do you want elected officials to be able to remove books because they personally don’t like the material?
Bill C says
OK, according to you, racism ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. King was fighting for equality and racial justice and was assassinated for that. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Brett Wilkins says
MLK was also a democratic socialist who called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Maybe if we had better, more honest education in this country, more people would know that, and then all these folks who love to parrot the only MLK quote they know in order to support the perpetuation of racist attitudes and actions would stop citing it.
Bill C says
@ Brett Wilkins- MLK also wrote that people who practice nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation, internal or external: “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.” The central concept of his leadership that most characterizes his life was his insistence on non violence to bring about change.
Edith Campins says
CRT is taught at the college level only. No one is teaching”children” CRT. Have you actually read the CRT materials? Bet not.
You only support the original Constitution without the ammendments. Right. We get it. You are either a white man scared of losing your dwindling power, or his wife who has been brainwashed by you. Good Grief. Volunteer in a classroom or something. But please wear a mask.
Keep telling yourself that. CRT is nothing but a lie told to the masses to get you all worked up and excited. It is a THEORY taught at the graduate level. It is incredible to be the depth of stupidity in this county. WAKE UP! You are all being freaking manipulated. CRT isn’t taught in schools for God’s sake. They are praying on your emotions and fear. You are being feed political propaganda and you are eating it up. If for anything else stop spewing stupidity and hatred over something you obviously don’t even understand. You people are destroying America with your blind ignorance and hate.
Say it louder says
“If Black and Brown children are old enough to experience racism, White children are old enough to learn about it.”
Say it louder says
Oh yeah, forgot one!
“You know you’re racist when you’re not against racism but against teaching the history of racism.”
Can’t we all just get along, we need to stop teaching hate and move on….
My question is this. Why do we allow the voices of these people, who clearly have an agenda to ban anything that discusses diversity, to drown out any reasonable conversation? Why don’t we stop them where they stand? If they spread a lie, who screams out that it’s a lie? Who challenges them to defend their stance with facts? The civility that was once required to get a point across is no longer working. We need to be loud and challenge these lies immediately. We can not allow the dumbest and/or craziest ideas to take off just because the person saying it is the loudest. Stand next to these people when they spew nonsense. Counter it with facts and do it IMMEDIATELY. The insanity has to stop.
There are no heroes in Flagler County. No one is willing to do what it takes to stop thisbtake filter if stupidity, evil, and hatefulness. No one is showing up to meetings ready to silence the ones trying to hurt your child’s future. Who will save us?
The reason why “we allow the voices of these people, who clearly have an agenda to ban anything that discusses diversity, to drown out any reasonable conversation” is the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects all speech, whether you agree with it or not.
If you missed that lesson yourself, this is how it reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”.
I would love to the ban liberal speech about race relations, climate, immigration etc because I agree that “We can not allow the dumbest and/or craziest ideas to take off just because the person saying it is the loudest”, but fortunately or unfortunately, the only solution to speech that we don’t like is more speech, unless of course you are so afraid of losing the argument that you must always seek to silence/cancel your opposition.
I think you may misunderstand the first amendment, yourself. The first amendment was written to prevent government officials from blocking speech. That’s exactly what you’re cheering on. These elected officials are trying to remove books, thereby limiting free speech. And you vote for them. Pick a side.
Schoolbooks and school library books are government speech and part of government “religion”. Parents have the right and duty to object to government speech they don’t agree with. First Amendment 101.
So you’d violate the first amendment rights of others because of your personal beliefs? And at the same champion elected officials who who want to violate free speech while arguing about free speech? Kinda seems like you just want the things you don’t like being dealt with and you don’t actually care about free speech.
The dude says
“FUCK BIDEN” flags are ok and flown proudly… but some obscure books that might mention the gays or speak honestly about our nation’s past are not.
Over it says
It’s scary that Kristy Furnari works within the school district. It’s alarming that she’s involved with anything to do with children’s education when she’s clearly driven by her own personal hate and racism. The BLM article was relevant and a nice perspective that society as a whole needs to read. It might lead us to being a little kinder and more empathetic to one another.
Submit a public comment ahead of the next school board meeting, or better yet, come! Flagler county doesn’t need to be taken over by fearful hateful people. We are better than that!
1950's Mom says
If “activists” want to see a change, do it with new writings moving forward. Please leave our history as it is already behind us.
And those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The KKK, Jim Crowe, McCarthy, ‘back of the bus’, anti-Asian sects are all in full come-back mode. Soon they will be attacking the Wops, dagos, kikes, Germans, French and all eastern Europeans, if you ain’t a WASP, you ain’t nobody. “Our history” is scarred with man’s inhumanity to man – a lesson which must be studied and from which we must learn. Burying our heads in the sand will do nothing to truly make this a country where ‘all men are created equal’. As long as we have people who ignore the past and promote hate to gain their pathetic goals this country will continue on its downward path.
Eileen Gernet says
Shame on those school board members who want to control school libraries to reflect their own personal philosophies. We don’t want our children reading graphic serial killer stories or any type of porn but equal rights for everyone is most certainly the reading experience we want for our children. Perhaps some school board members should read the constitution and amendments. Just pick up your mortgage papers and read the ECOA disclosure you signed.. Lending institutions, landlords, and a plethora of other entities are not permitted to discriminate so why would the schools entertain such ideas. Parents should be monitoring what their children read and have frank discussions lending guidance to their young minds.
As a parent of a special needs child, I wish with all my heart I could have discussions like that with my child. So to those who want to censor school libraries think a minute what is best to educate and instill equality in young people.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Mortgage companies are private entities. Schools are funded by taxpayers whose children attend those schools. Your analogy is invalid.
So you are saying schools are allowed to discriminate because taxpayers pay for them? Not all schools 🏫 are public.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
When did I say that, Bartholomew? Did my comment say schools are allowed to discriminate because taxpayers pay for them?
Run run run says
Jill Woolbright is evil. She’s just as bad or worse than McDonald. The two of them need to go. Both are up for re-election. Let’s pray both are swiftly removed. The district has been in complete chaos since they’ve come on board. Evil is taking over Flagler County. People need to wake up and realize what is happening. These people do not represent the Republican Party. Shameful that Jill sits on the executive committee. They need to let the rest of us know if this is who they have become? Disgusting
Barry McDonald says
Note the correction below.–FL
Only McDonald is up for re-election. She is in district 2.As far as I can tell there is only one person running for District 2.McDonald is not this person. I don’t know if she is going to run or not.
( no relation )
The commenter is off by two seats. Three school board seats are up for election in 2022: Those seats held by Jill Woolbright (who is only completing the term of Andy Dance), Janet McDonald and Trevor Tucker.
Barry McDonald says
I thought that since Jill was elected last year she would be up for re-election in four years. I forgot she filled Andy’s seat. I knew Trevor was up for re-election but I did not think he was one of the two the article was mentioning. Thank you for clearing that up. My mistake.
The Geode says
Whatever happened to “readin’, ritin’, and rithmatic'”? Let religion, CRT, and all that other divisive bullshit be taught at home or in the streets where it belongs.
CRT is not taught in schools. This is nothing more than “conservatives” attempting to control the school system. Fear is a powerful tool and republicans use it to their full advantage.
Barry McDonald says
Teachers are expected to teach so much more than that. It is mind boggling to see what a school staff (it’s more than teachers) is expected to do and accomplish.
Say it louder says
“divisive bullshit”? Okay, you as a home grown Bunnellion should know the deal? There are 55 year-olds in this community who still bare the scars of being elementary school aged students who had to single handedly carry their own desk and chair to the school they were now being integrated into that didn’t want them. But then again you have Clearance Thomas and Uncle Ruckus seeping through the font in your comment, so it probably makes no difference to you.
Another thing, “readin” goes along with a subject called HISTORY which you should know about being black people couldn’t even go to Flagler Beach back in the day.
Schools were always about reading, writing, and math. Now they seem to want to educate about being racist, promoting gay and lesbian thoughts, BLM, and all kings of crap that has NO place in any school. Teachers must be held responsible for teaching their personal beliefs of sexual orientation. School is there for kids to learn, not about brainwashing them agains good, bad or to be racist.
Nobody is teaching that. What’s happening is the fearful conservatives don’t even want it mentioned. It’s just fear. Fear that people might become more tolerant to the things they dislike.
Barry McDonald says
I wish you volunteer in a school for a few full days (kindergarten is the most amazing) The “kings of crap” (sic.) you talk about are not taught.
Red Dawn says
Republicans Outnumber Democrats for First Time in Florida………Oops !!!!
Scary thought. I can’t imagine what draws people to such a hateful, useless, obstructive, regressive group of people.
And you are kind and loving? Your comments don’t reflect that.
Why do you say that? Because I choose to fight against racist, elitist xenophobes? Even I have to draw the line somewhere. What kind of human being would I be if I allowed a group of people to continue to perpetuate bigotry and lies? Especially when that bigotry and lies leads to oppression and the destruction of America.
“Republicans Outnumber Democrats ” We are achieving critical mass, we need to make sure that Florida is a solid Red state. People are deliberately leaving Blue states and coming here for freedom. I find it ironic that people that vote for more taxes and government can’t wait to escape from the people they voted for, and the state government they created. Don’t New York/Cali our Florida, leave your leftist ideas back where you came from if you plan on staying here.
People leave blue states because it’s cold. If you think republicans are working for you then consider the fact that Desantis has already been overturned for a first amendment violation. UF had to reverse a decision preventing staff members from testifying because it was a violation of first amendment rights. There is no platform for republicans other than fear and hate. The rest of your post is just Fox News buzzwords.
Fed up says
Wow…out of curiosity. Native or transplant?
The miserable little School marm is at it again. Gives me satisfaction knowing she’s a sour puss. Go suck a lemon. Vote Accordingly
Edith Campins says
Now the backward movement is complete. These people, who claim they are all for freedom of speech, are trying to ban books. Do we need any more proof that McDonald has to go? How can this have happened in four years? The school board meetings are dominated by uneducated, prejudiced peddlers of misinformation and the board members , eager to pander to them, fall in with their wishes. Shame on them. These are the same people who rail against Communism and yet that is exactly what they are bringing about.
There are no heroes in Flagler County, no one willing to show up to meetings and confront the people tearing apart the fabric of their society
James M. Mejuto says
Now we know the ‘book burning’ advocates who crawl along the woodwork: McDonald, Woolbright, Furnari and many others.
They most likely have never read those books and pretend to understand.
If we build a bonfire . . . they will come !
Mike Cocchiola says
Public schools are under a coordinated vicious attack across this troubled country. Janet McDonald, Jill Woolbright, and this radical know-nothing Kristy Furnari are mere soldiers in the radical conservative war on knowledge. At its extreme, people like this will burn any book that questions their racist, fascist view of their future America.
It’s time to fight back. We must be as loud and fervent in our opposition as the crazies. Being polite doesn’t work. Explaining our viewpoint and trying to understand theirs is a waste of our time. We have to confront them any time, any place. If we choose to stay home and stay comfortable, we lose everything we’ve worked for for the past 200 years.
Time to get in the fight!
Me, myself & I says
Behold, the head of the party calling the mob to assault people because the democratic process does not get him what he wants now.
It doesn’t help that our governor is leading the pack. Gilead is coming. The hatred is real. Teachers are being accused of indoctrinating students with liberal ideas when in reality we spend our days teaching manners and empathy because it isn’t being taught at home. If I go to one of those meetings I will end up fired, in jail or both.
Like it or not, the Flagler school board is only one vote away from making “The Turner Diaries” mandatory reading as a Civics textbook. We have seen these folks waving their flags and chanting on A1A and bringing mobs and guns to board meetings. They are Flagler County.
I was in 3rd grade when I picked up one of my mom’s college course books. A collection of short stories. I read through them looking for something to do a book report on that wasn’t Charlotte’s Web. The story I chose was Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. It fascinated me. I wrote a report on the story and turned it in to my teacher.
My mother was called in to a parent/teacher conference so the teacher could discuss why I was reading college-level material as an 8-year-old kid and not adhering to the selected list of books. My mother, you have to understand, took absolutely no crap from anyone and was the creator of the zero f***s given movement. She told the teacher I read everything from that list already and was bored with the reading limitations. She said that I was to read and write on whatever books I found interesting. If the teacher provided reading suggestions I didn’t read, then I would read those and do the reports as required. My mother pushed the school to open up options for reading and changed how the school assigned reading material. There were two reading lists, one regular and one advanced for students like me that read books like Charlotte’s Webb when they were three.
Two years later, when I was 10, I read Stephen King’s The Stand. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite books. I devoured every word. I couldn’t get enough and kept pushing myself to read more challenging material. My parents approved and were thrilled. When I did my book report on the books I read that summer, I wrote about The Stand, Brave New World, and Crime and Punishment. This time my English teacher engaged in dialogue with me about the books I chose. She encouraged me to keep reading, to keep growing and expanding my knowledge about things, and never stop learning.
I’ll never forgot any of that, my mother and the way she advocated on my behalf not just with this but for taking classes early or concurrently or being placed in honors for everything possible, while also fighting for universal change in my school for all so there was more choice allowed not less. I’ll never forget the teachers that challenged me, pushed me, and supported me. They didn’t brainwash me or teach me “liberal” lessons. They helped prepare me for success, which I have achieved. They taught me hard work pays off. They instilled in me that knowledge is power and in order to have that power, one must continue to grow the mind, and the soul. Treat everyone as you would want to be treated. Despite our differences, we’re all the same. Judge no one, because it is you that will be most harshly judged.
It’s not woke-ism or liberalism, those ideas are the basic tenets of humanity. If we’ve lost that, if we can’t see that we should extend a hand to someone rather than eviscerating them with dehumanizing vitriol or violence, then what have we become as a society, as a species. We’re at a tipping point. And for what? Because you don’t like someone’s skin color? Their religion? Their politics? Who they love? What they do with their body? Really? This is where we are right now? These reasons? Why? Fear? Irrelevancy? An inability to learn from past mistakes in generations long gone? The fear that accepting all people makes you weak? I still believe we are better than what we’re seeing and hearing and reading from a minority of oppressive minds. We have to be because if we’re not, we’re too far gone from ever coming back, and humanity itself will be referenced in history books as a once cherished but now extinct quality.
The bottom line, expanding the mind and accepting all people as people with love and understanding is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. If you don’t want your child exposed to knowledge and humanity, then express that viewpoint and let them create separate classes, one for those that want to read Charlotte’s Web hanging with Goldilocks the rest of their lives, and another for those that are curious about this Brave New World that happened in 1984 on an Animal Farm.
When and where is the book burning going to be held? Make sure “Beloved” by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison is in there. I can see the fire glow on the faces of Jill Woolbright and Janet McDonald in the dusk as sparks ascend and the pile is reduced to ashes.
There is always some people trying to stop the progress of other people. This is nothing new, read the Bible about Nehemiah trying to build the wall. There were men trying to stop them, the wall was built in record time. We can’t let the people dictate to us what we can and can’t read. Our children need to learn everything they can about present day life in this country. Let us vote them out if office. Shame on them. It is usually the Whites telling blacks what they can and can’t do. Where they can and can’t go. Where they can and can’t live. The list can go on. I am not surprised at this. What are we going to do about this?
Nina deBodisco says
I am a fifth grade teacher in Flagler County. I taught this unit, I thought is was very well done,and gave students a basic of the Constitution through reading and writing about our Constitution, presented in their lessons,
“The Constitution then and Now”
The he enduring understandings that were presented in the unit
“The purpose of the U.S. Constitution was to outline the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of the federal government.
The laws of U.S. Constitution can be added to through the amendment process.
Some laws need to be amended to eliminate bias and to expand the protection of people’s rights.
Citizens may petition or protest for a cause and for changes to be made to laws.
Determination is an important factor in working for changes to the U.S. Constitution.”
Short read one: Creating the Constitution
Short read two: Voting rights act address by President Lyndon Johnson
Extended read: Fighting For The Vote
Extended Read : “Thurgood Marshall’s Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech
It would be a good idea for all Americans to take a look back, read these important documents that the children just read”,The Voting rights act address” and Thurgood Marshall’s Acceptance Speech”
” THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT’
Forty years ago I taught my children that there is good and bad in this world and not shield them from facts like perverted (like we see so much of these days, as they infiltrate our TV commercials, looking to eventually create justification that its OK due to repetitive airing) and other evil groups in the world.
Bottom Line: I pointed out(taught) there is good and evil, but these are “our” values so Make the correct choice in life. If you taught them well they will listen instead of running to the dark side
Let’s start teaching firearm safety in all public schools. The right to own a firearm is in the constitution after all. Half of all students will go on in the future to own firearms or come in contact with one. Why not educate the youngsters. I say start with the Eddie the eagle program from the NRA. Education is the key to safety.
This is just a thinly veiled threat under the guise of the second amendment. That’s the only solution some people seem to know. I guess it’s easier than researching topics that are actually being debated.
We should ban firearms for public use . Even police officers shouldn’t carry fire arms, they cause more death.
Thank you for your truly excellent comment “WhoSupportsCancelCulture????”. . . if only books like 1984 were still “required” reading in high school. I was shocked to see it in the “Banned” section of our local library.
May I suggest everyone watch Freedom Writers on Netflix for a great example of what can be accomplished by one teacher who believes in
VOTE the dangerous extreme right winged cult members out of our School Board. . . Mc Donald and Woolbright need to be “BANNED” from public office!
Been There says
LOL, they want to mandate what the children read to ensure their moral safety but NOT mandate masks to ensure their physical safety. Get the hypocrites out.