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Enabling Books to “Talk” to Youth in Need in Flagler Schools
When my husband was in seventh grade at college in Pennsylvania, a classmate’s mother came to class one day with a huge box of papers. For weeks, the class helped revise and gave this mother feedback on a manuscript she was working on. That mother was Laurie Halse Anderson. This book is “Speak” and is currently under review by Flagler Schools.
In 2007, I bought this same book from my school library in Florida. I was 16 and, as the kids are saying today, I was really going through it. This book gave me a voice. I now knew that I was no longer alone in my extremely tall and intense feelings, thanks to Anderson’s bravery and the class of my husband who, years before, had given Anderson a glimpse into the reality of being. a teenager. People want to challenge “Speak”, saying it’s too graphic for young people; the fact is that young people were heavily involved in the publishing of the book.
Children aren’t fragile, ceramic dolls sitting in a protective case, only to be suddenly immersed in the real world at the age of 18. Daily; experiences that you might not even be aware of.
Instead of shielding them from the lived reality of the millions who came before them in the name of “protection,” if you see a child with a book, why not ask him questions? Ask why the child chose the book he is reading. Ask him his opinion on the main characters and the plots. If you are a parent and there are heavy topics, set aside some space for them and be there for them to ask you questions on those topics. Young people are desperate to connect and share their experiences with their caregivers. Books can be a form of that connection and a way for our young people to share their world with us.
I want my parents to engage with me about the books I read; maybe I would have told them some things sooner rather than 10 years later when it was too late and we missed this chance to connect.
“Not All Boys Are Blue” is not a book that every child will pick up and read. It’s tailored for a specific audience – kids who need this book – the same way I needed to hear Melinda’s voice in “Speak”. The experiences the narrator has in “Not All the Boys Are Blue” are experiences not everyone has, but he puts them so eloquently in writing. This book could give another person the courage to speak their truth, the courage to go on living – all because they now know that they are no longer alone with their feelings on this great planet, where days go by. too fast and life can be overwhelming.
Astrophysicist Carl Sagan aptly described the books in his “Cosmos” series: “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant eras. books break the chains of time. A book is proof that humans can do magic. “
Why should children, especially high school kids approaching legal adulthood, be deprived of this magic at the hands of bickering adults?
Allow parents to allow access to restricted books
There has been a lot of debate about the book Not All Boys Are Blue. Some think it belongs to school libraries, others don’t. At this time, the Flagler Schools policy has not been updated to reflect the new Florida. Statutes, including the Declaration of Parents’ Rights. Here is my proposition :
1. Place the book “Not All Boys Are Blue” in restricted status. Allow parents to “accept” their child for restricted media.
2. Any new media that arrives at any Flagler Schools media center is automatically placed in restricted status until it is reviewed. If deemed suitable for unrestricted playback, it receives unrestricted status. Otherwise, it simply remains in restricted status.
3. Any disputed material is immediately placed in restricted status until it is reviewed. If the challenge fails, the title is reset to unlimited status.
I believe this process strikes a balance between the rights of parents and the provision of age-appropriate materials. It prevents outright media ban and allows access if a parent feels the material is appropriate for their children.
Citizen working group could examine books
I am not in favor of censorship or publishing a copyrighted book. However, I favor parents with a voice or veto over material presented to their children.
I applaud school board member Jill Woolbright for having the courage to force this dialogue. If the point of view of educators differs from that of many parents in the community they serve, the point of view of parents must prevail. I believe this is such a case.
A citizens’ task force could review books from a list that would be available in schools. Some of the books might be flagged as requiring parental approval to be shared with students. The rights and opinions of each would thus be preserved and respected.
Banning books is political demagoguery
The school board is once again relaunching the controversy. This time, her theatricality is about the books in the student library, and the hysteria is led by Jill Woolbright, who has made herself the custodian of literary property.
Mrs Woolbright is calling for the banning of four books which apparently do not suit her, and, in a dramatic performance, she actually made a criminal dismissal and submitted as “evidence” to our sheriff’s office an award-winning book, considered a “Teacher’s choice” by booksellers. Woolbright, looking through a Victorian-era eye and with a questionable legal assessment, concluded in his opinion that the book was obscene and criminal, although it is not clear exactly where the crime lies and who is the author.
The books, three of which were written by black authors, cover fictional and non-fiction topics related to racial discrimination and its history, gender identity, LGBTQ +, sexuality and bullying and, according to booksellers and book clubs, were aimed at teens and young adults. .
Woolbright is clearly repeating the efforts that have been stepped up this year by mostly Conservative-led school boards seeking to do away with books that teach and tell inspiring and important stories. For Woolbright and others, it is not really about children, or even about educating students, but about their prejudices and their political position. And purging schools of material that just doesn’t fit a cultural or political agenda has the specter of 1933 Germany.
Ironically, and what these cultural warrior school boards apparently fail to take into account, is that such book ban efforts will surely backfire, for there is no doubt that the best way to bring students to read a book is to have the notoriety that it was banned.
Democrats are not the ones trying to ban books
Critical race theory is only taught at the college level. If opponents of the CRT bother to read the documents, they will see that it is not teaching anyone to hate anyone. It teaches the real indisputable facts of our history. No, the Liberals and Democrats are not trying to erase history; rather the opposite.
There are transgender people in the world. It’s a fact. No one teaches anyone how to be transgender, but everyone, including children, has to face the reality that it is.
It is not the Liberals or Democrats who are trying to ban books.
It’s ironic that the same people who say the mask and vaccine warrants threaten their freedom are the ones trying to ban the books. Parents have the right to control what their children read; they do not have the right to control what the children of other parents read.
Finally, you don’t see any statues of Hitler or Goebbels in Europe. Yes, they are part of their history, but they do not glorify them with monuments.
Finally, it was appalling to see adults yelling obscenities at young people exercising their First Amendment rights at the recent school board meeting. And no, those shouting weren’t Liberals or Democrats.
Restore “fairness”, ignore the radicals
Thus, there will be no “fairness” in Flagler schools. Cowardly County School Board intellectuals, with one exception, have caved in to anti-knowledge fringe fanatics, Moms for Liberty, and removed the word “fairness” from its strategic goals.
I sincerely doubt that anyone from Moms for Liberty – the most militant of knowledge deniers – can even define the term “fairness” in the context of academic goals. Besides, I doubt very much that anyone in this radical cult can define the critical theory of race, which they find just as offensive.
But let’s focus on equity today and embrace the official definition: “Educational equity is the intentional allocation of resources, instruction and opportunities according to need, requiring that discriminatory practices, prejudices and beliefs are identified and eradicated ”. How is that offensive to someone?
With the exception of school board member Colleen Conklin, it appears that all of the school board superintendent, Cathy Mittelstadt, was more than willing to dismiss this essential goal of our school system simply to appease a radical fringe group.
So what’s the next step?
The cowards of the school board will they allow Moms for Liberty to burn books that they have been told (obviously they don’t actually read them) are “anti-American”, like, perhaps, “Catcher in the Rye ”,“ Ulysses ”,“ Uncle Tom’s Cabin ”,“ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ”and anything from Toni Morrison? Will the frightened board members light the torches?
The school board shamed itself, embarrassed our riding and disadvantaged our children. Equity must be restored in our educational goals, and the rational majority will fight back until this is done.