My last post I explained the process in challenging a book,BELOVED in the public school system and our (Penny and mine), experience in working with the School Level Materials Challenge.

This post concerns the next step, which was the District Level Materials Challenge, which was held at Satellite HS. The committee of 13 were hand-picked by either the principle, Mr Elliott and/or Ms. Gina Clark, the District Library Media Resource Teacher.

I was running late,so Penny was tasked with presenting our part to the “unbiased” committee. Unknown to me until later,

Penny was told that she could not record the meeting;(but could record her own presentation). Now understand that this is a meeting that was public and accordingly, held in the “Sunshine”. She had already given her presentation when I came in late from surgery in time to catch Ms. DePeppe’s last few remarks.

Now I was ordered , in no uncertain terms by Ms. Van Meter, the Associate Superintendent Curriculum & Instruction for the school District that I could not record. She enterated that there were notes being taken. I explained that unless the note taker was a court reporter that there would be a lot left to her interpretation as well as a lot of material missing. This fell pon deft ears.

Now Penny just got her first Iphone and is a true novice in it’s use. After her presentation, she thought that she had turned it off because the screen went dark. It was not until arrive to our car in the parking lot that she discovered that it was still recording.

Below is a copy of the notes taken and submitted by the BCS employee from the meeting. Penny’s recorded presentation  are represented by underlined and italic.   I have not as yet reviewed what the 13 members had to say on the recording…but, that is for another time. You will also find at the end, that the 2 options to be voted on changed from what is stated at the beginning to what was acctually voted on.


Request for Reconsideration of Materials Committee

November 18, 2015

Satellite High School

2:30 PM


Gina Clark welcomed the committee.

Committee names are listed on the meeting agenda.

Gina Clark

We are meeting today to address the concerns of Mr. and Mrs. Boone related to curriculum material.  The school-level committee process did not resolve the issue, so it has come to a district committee.

[All members of the committee introduced themselves and confirmed that they had read the material.]

Let it be noted in the minutes that a quorum is present.

[Ms. Clark read an introductory piece (see attachment) to the committee and community members present.]

Option 1:  Retain Beloved in the Media Center the book available under existing terms., as part of the AP SUMMER READING LIST under existing terms.  Terms were read aloud.  Existing terms include having book available on the library shelf for Sr High students to check out by choice. Middle school students are not permitted to check this material out, however 8th grade students may with written permission from their parents. Exciting terms for AP Lit course include the optional summer work beginning of the year summer handout that Ms DePeppe provided. And also the AP reading list permission form requesting a parents’s signature and including a statement to notify parents of controversial issues and mature content.

Option 2:  Remove Beloved from media shelf center under existing terms and make it available to high school students only with parent permission only and after notifying parents of controversial content.

Each party will have 5 minutes to present to the committee.  Time will be kept and each party will be held to the 5 minutes.  Following that, committee members will discuss the issue as needed.

Mr. Boone is not available today so Mrs. Boone will make a statement on behalf of her husband and herself.

Mrs. DiPeppe will also speak.

Mrs. Boone and Mrs. DiPeppe are welcome to remain after their statements but are not permitted to participate in the committee or interfere with the process.

Penny Boone

My name is Penny Boone.  I would like to start by reading some quotes from the book Beloved.

P. 13 And so they were:  Paul D. Garner, Paul F. Garner, Paul A. Garner, Halle Suggs and Sixo, the wild man.  All in their twenties, minus women, fucking cows, dreaming of rape, thrashing on pallets, rubbing their thighs and waiting for the new girl—the one who took Baby Suggs place after Halle bought her with five years of Sundays.

p. 24  A stair step before him, was Baby Suggs replacement, the new girl they dreamed of at night and fucked cows for at dawn while waiting for her to choose.”

p. 32  Sethe smiled at her and Halle’s stupidity.  Even the cows knew and came to look.  Uncrossing her ankles, she managed not to laugh aloud.  The jump, thought Paul D, from a calf to a girl wasn’t all that mighty…And taking her in the corn rather than her quarters, a yard away from the cabins of the others who had lost out, was a gesture of tenderness.  Halle wanted privacy for her and got a public display.  Who could miss a ripple in a cornfield on a quite cloudless day?…  It was hard, hard, hard sitting there erect as dogs watching the cornstalks dance at noon.

p. 127  Kneeling in the mist they waited for the whim of the guard, or two, or three.  Or maybe all of them wanted it,  Wanted if from one prisoner in particular or none—or all.  “Breakfast?  Want some breakfast, nigger?”  “Yes, sir.”  “Hungry, nigger?”  “Yes, sir.”  “Here you go.”  Occasionally a kneeling man chose a gunshot in his head as the price, maybe, of taking a bit of foreskin with him to Jesus.  He was looking at his palsied hands, smelling the guard, listening to his soft grunts so like the doves’, as he stood before the man kneeling in his midst.

Some of those words I read were words my husband has never heard me speak—words I don’t use.

We are in a society where there are ratings for movies and other places in which we are given ratings and guidelines so that we as parents can choose what content we expose our children to.We have a newspaper, Florida Today, have guidelines that state that they have the right to remove material that they consider offensive,lewd.We have filters on computers that restrict access to inappropriate content, and as parents, we sign a form that gives permission for our students to use these computers in school, and yet, we have this book on the shelf. We don’t know what is in it, and yet there is access to our high school students. Yet, we have these books in our school libraries where children can check them out and read them at any time without parent knowledge.

The book Beloved has bestiality, profanity, graphic, horrific vivid sexual acts.  Then are powerful words and they create powerful images in these young teenage minds We don’t know– As a parent, I wouldn’t of known. parents, I had no clue. we have no clue. I saw the list. This was on the list. I didn’t know there were controversial books on the list. I have a son, it was not appealing to him. It was not a choice for him. It did not appeal. He had no choice. We do not know how the student will react and this book is never discussed in class. The student reads this in independent study. They do write essays, but there is no discussion in class about this.This is not discussed in class. The parent may or may not be aware of what they are reading. We trust the school to keep this a safe place. The student at the last committee believed that after reading this book, believed that living in Satellite Beach was not “real lIfe”. I was surprised by that, because apprently, she has never experienced nor knows anybody that has experienced such horrific acts, thank goodness. We were told that in discussion one of the students concluded that living in Satellite Beach is not real life because she has never been exposed to such horrific act.  Another student Yet, there was another student as shared by Ms DiPeppe with something going on last Wednesday, that through personal experience, was able to identify with a character in this book. And we know that such things exists here in this community, so we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. So it is real life here.expressed that she could relate to the terrible things because she knew of situations where similar things occurred.

I don’t believe that this book should be on the shelf. I think It’s inappropriate.  I think it’s; when they are older and make their decisions, that great. This is our last chance to help guide our children through the last few years so down the road they can make, between what is wrong and what is right, the right decisions .(Last part of previous sentence was not clear).But we need to be aware of this,at the least please, please,let parents know the content of these books. Penny never said the following: In a few years, when the kids are in college and more mature and ready to read things like this, fine.  But now they don’t know how to react to this.  They aren’t sure how to handle it.  Please let parents at least be aware of the content.

One last thing I do want to mention,is that Ms DiPeppe shared with us on Wednesday, is this also a list, a list of 300 she is talking, from what I understood,is also a list that is given to students by another English teacher here that my son had as a freshman.So, it is available not only to honor students, or to AP class students, but is available to all students. Thanks you.Mrs. DiPeppe stated that this list of 300 is given to students on a list for freshman English.  So, it is not only available to AP honor students, but to other students of younger ages.  This book should not be available to students so freely.

Joanna DiPeppe

I have several things that I could address, but I am not going to spend my few minutes going over the quotes that were shared.  In our previous meeting, we established that this work is not a work of porn because it is not intended to ellicit sexual arousal.  If I were to speak about sexual content, I could look at Grapes of Wrath as an example or Shakespeare’s Tempest or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  There are many books that have these types of scenes or this content.  These are intended for advanced, mature students.  I have given you a copy of a packet that describes how students should handle mature, explicit material.

I wanted to address the comment that this book does not reflect real pre-Civil War life.  Toni Morrison makes clear that this book was not meant to be a work of nonfiction.  Historically true in essence, but not strictly factual.  It is intended to be an imagined work.  The conditions that slaves lived in during that era are depicted and based on the real-life experiences of one woman, Margaret Garner, who did live at that time.  She researched Margaret Garner,  but Toni Morrison did not intend to portray the events or people as accurate history, but rather as a reflection of things that happened in the general sense.

As to the reason for implementing this piece, we look at the 2015 AP Literature exam [Shows sample question on the document camera and reads it aloud].  One of the questions asks readers and writers, to look at the use of cruelty in various pieces of literature and how the theme is developed as the characters experience and react to the cruelty inflicted upon them.  The students have to write about how these terrible events impacted the characters and how the author portrayed the nature of the cruelty.  When you read books that will address this question, you will encounter some text that make students think about these issues.

The list for students that Mrs. Boone referenced is distributed to students is for pre-AP students, for students who will be taking AP classes in the future.  It would not be given to non-AP track students or in general to students.

Beloved is one of the top-10 most referred to texts on College Board exams.  It is deemed to speak to contemporary themes of racism and show how historic conditions led to ongoing issues in modern society.

[Time is called.]Mr. Boone has broken every rule in the whole process, so I would like to point out the historic significance of this work.

Hamilton Boone

I have not been here through the whole process, ma’am.

[The floor is opened to committee members to discuss the request.  Juliet Underill begins speaking, but it is noticed that Mr. Boone is recording the meeting.  Gina Clark requests that Mr. Boone stop recording due to the fact that he did not inform the committee members that he was recording and they receive no notice that he would be recording the meeting.  Mr. Boone states that he has the right to record the meeting because every school board meeting that is “in the sunshine” is recorded and this is also a meeting in the sunshine.  The committee members and Mrs. DiPeppe also express discomfort about being recorded without their knowledge and without notice.  Cyndi Van Meter intervenes to explain that the issue is that the committee was not notified in advance.  Gina Clark states that minutes are being kept for the meeting.  Mr. Boone asks if a recording is supporting the note-taking.  Gina Clark says no.  Mr. Boone states that Amy Kneessey would be interested to know that they are denying him the right to record.  Gina Clark invites him to contact Mrs. Kneessey, but states that the committee meeting will continue and that he is not welcome to record the meeting.  Mr. Boone ultimately agrees to stop recording and displays his cell phone to the committee showing that the recording app is closed.  He states that he will be informing Mrs. Kneessey about this incident.]

Juliet Underill

I started reviewing by reviewing the complaint carefully.  I read the book again with the things in the complaint in mind to see if I could come to the same conclusions or different conclusions or a combination of both–the sexual content, slanted view, etc.   I tried to follow the format to guide my research in this book.  I read the whole book and downloaded material, extracts, reviews.  I met with English department heads, English teachers, professors of English and Mrs. DiPeppe.  I tried to be as thorough as possible in order to be as fair to both parties and in my reflection on this issue.

The book I read was my daughter’s book that she had for assigned reading.  I see her notes, underlines, highlights.  The sentences read today by Mrs. Boone are not highlighted.  There are many areas that are highlighted, underlined, and notes in the margins showing her thoughts about the book.  But the words that are listed in the complaint are not the words my daughter focused on in her reading.  My own daughter, not knowing this book would ever be looked at by her mother, read this book and took notes and demonstrated her deep understanding through the points that she highlighted.

Toni was oblique in her descriptions of slavery.  To compare it to a movie with ratings is inappropriate because the director decides what you will see and the rating is based on the director’s choices.  The book Beloved is different than the movie.   The letter the Boone’s sent out the other day is very illuminating.  Some of the passages they noted are being taken out of context.  The rippling in the corn field is a section discussing a married couple going into the field.

She [Toni Morrison] also shows good and bad.  The white people and the slaves in the book have good and bad qualities.  She doesn’t try to make one or the other the good party.  She shows them both in good and bad lights.

As far as ghosts…What about Hamlet, or Charles Dickens, or Daphne De Maurier for that matter?

I admire your dedication and concern, and that’s something to be applauded.  But in my experience with this book and teachers and college professors, I was really impressed that the teachers work together with the history teachers and the literature and helping students understand the connections to this fictional book and the real events that happened in those times.

The book isn’t assigned in a capricious nature.  It is used to prepare them for college and beyond.  This is a college course that the students are taking.

I have deep reservations about having one parent or a small group of parents trying to make a decision for many, many students.  This is an award-winning high school with almost 1300 students.  They or their parents deserve a chance to speak for themselves and their own thoughts and values.  It shouldn’t be left to a few people to make decisions for every child.

Banning books is banning ideas.  It represents a failure—a failure to believe your child can think or a failure to communicate with your child.

Nancy Gray

I was not excited about reading this book, but I read it because I had to.  Beloved contains many difficult topics, but if you look at it from a purely literary point of view, Toni Morrison presents a very well-written piece.   In her story, the way she weaves together her story and builds her characters is beyond amazing.

My main concern with this request for reconsideration was the quotes taken out of context.  The whole point of analysis is context, context, context.  Quotes taken out of context take away from the deeper meaning and the big picture that the author is conveying.

I would like to read a passage from another book:  That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephriam, who was living in Gibeah, came in from his work in the fields.  When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going?  Where did you come from?”  He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephriam where I live.  I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord.  No one has taken me into his house.  We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, your maidservant, and the young man with us.  We don’t need anything.”  “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said.  “Let me supply whatever you need.  Only don’t spend the night in the square.”  So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys.  After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.  While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house.  Pounding on the door, they shouted to the man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”  The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile.  Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing.  Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine.  I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish.  But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.”  But the men would not listen to him.  So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.  At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.  When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.  He said to her, “Get up, let’s go.”  But there was no answer.  Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.  When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them to all the areas of Israel.  Everyone who saw it said, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came out of Egypt.  Think about it!  Consider it!  Tell us what to do!”

As you figured out, this is from the Bible.  If I only read this passage, this is about rape, mistreatment of women, and cutting up a body.  But this is from the book of Judges, which is a part where people wanted a human king, not a heavenly king.  If I only read this part of the Bible, I wouldn’t get the bigger picture.  This is a time of chaos and judgement leading up to the birth of Jesus and salvation and God’s grace.  You have to know the context of the story.  In Beloved, Sethe deserved to die.  She murdered her baby.  But in the end, she was forgiven and found grace.  It is a story of grace.

My issue with any text is that when you only take pieces and parts, you miss the bigger meaning.

Mrs. Boone said something about a student relating to a character who experienced abuse.  I don’t have a problem with this.  If I am living in hell, and think I am the only one, then this book lets me know that I’m not the only one, that there is something more.  I think that is an opportunity for a student, not a bad thing.

Sarah Aloise

I am the school librarian.  Some of my concerns relate to the role of the library, which is to promote diversity, education and lifelong learning, equitable access to information and library services, intellectual freedom, and literacy. One of our jobs is to provide materials representative of various religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and their contributions to the world.  One of my roles is to rise above my personal preferences to offer a diverse representation and being committed to providing resources that meet the needs of all of our students.  Some of the things in our mission statement are things that have educational significance and are from reputable sources.  As an AP book, we have made Beloved available to our senior high students with the other books on the list.  We have pulled the books on the AP list and put them on a separate shelf so the AP students can easily find them and the list is posted.  They are labeled AP, but other students are not restricted from checking them out.  They have a dot on them that means they can only be checked out by senior high students or eighth graders with parent permission on file.  I checked and it is in 13 of our high schools.  It has favorable review.  It is Pulitzer Prize winner.  Among the literary community, it is considered a book of value.  Common Sense Media is a site for parents who want to be conscientious.  That site says that the book is on many high school required reading lists because it is a classic that will leave a lasting impression on readers.  “It’s true that Beloved is the 26th book on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books for 2000-2009 and has been challenged for its violence, sexuality, and more: It features a gritty infanticide, racial language, horrific sexual assaults, and even references to sex with animals. But teens are mature enough to handle the challenges this book presents. At this age they can decide for themselves what they think about disturbing personal and historical events.  Beloved is a beautiful, powerful book that will help all readers learn about the horrors of slavery — and leave them thinking about what it means to be a strong, heroic, or moral person.”  I believe the policies in place take the content into consideration.  One of the reviews I read was about the slave women and said that the violence was atypical but by no means unique.  It also said that some slave owners took advantage of their female slaves and resulting children were considered the owner’s property.  The 1st Amendment applies to students with limitation.  Rulings state that school officials cannot remove a book from a school library because they find the content objectionable.  We do have a responsibility to educate our students.

Gina Clark

A significant benefit of diverse literature is that it provides insight into the human experience.  Physical access to knowledge means being able to access texts unimpeded with the right to read or view.  I believe that parents have the absolute right to decide what their own child reads or views.  However, all parents should have the equal right to determine that for their own child.  As a parent, I was sometimes surprised at what my own children brought home.  I took it as an opportunity to discuss various topics with my children and get a sense of what they were thinking.   As parents, we do not need to restrict the access to ideas, but should take opportunities to share our own.  Protecting our children from controversial ideas does not prepare children for the topics they encountered in the real world.

The difference between a movie and a book is that a book must convey a situation with words, sometimes ugly words, to achieve the same completeness of idea that a movie can do with a visual representation.

This situation raises 1st Amendment concerns and stigmatizes books.  When we barrier access, the book is basically off limits for students.  It might cause an uncomfortable feeling for students to go to the circulation desk to ask for books on a certain topic.  It also sends a message that there is something wrong or inappropriate about a topic.  I do not believe that the values of an individual should be dictate what is within the school walls.  I would not recommend limiting the access of students to this text under the existing conditions.

Doug Cook

I read the book and wrote down some notes.  1st Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press, freedom of speech and other rights.  I’m not sure I have the right to ban Mrs. Morrison’s book.  As a father in a Christian home, I have sensitivity to controversial content.  I do worry about what my children are exposed to and how they are affected by information they get from the world outside the home.  But I think about the rights we have in this country, rights that have been hard-won.  My father fought in the Vietnam War and fought to defend the rights.   He would say that he fought for freedoms to be preserved, not taken away. The subject of Beloved is slavery, and my impression is that this book is a realistic representation of the time and subject.  My daughter Hayley took Mrs. DiPeppe’s class, but did not choose Beloved.  She chose other books to read, with other challenging topics to discuss.  Her experiences in the class was very positive and had a lasting effect.

Chris Spinale

I don’t see this as obscenity.  I evaluated from 3 perspectives:  Does it have artistic value?  It did.  Does it pander to prurient interest?  It did not.  Would society find it offensive as a whole?  I don’t believe it would.  Toni Morrison paints a picture of history in a very vivid way.  History–good, bad, ugly– needs to be revealed.  Taking students into something safely and out of something safely is a way we can provide an opportunity for students to explore these difficult concepts with adult guidance and support.

Jasmine DeLaughter

When I read the Boone’s appeal related to ratings, I thought of the slavery movies that have been produced over the years.  I hate slavery movies because I don’t like the way that Hollywood often portrays the events, the actions of the people, or the lasting impacts.  When I was in school, just like today, I often was the only black student in the room.  When I was 18 years old, I was given this book to read.  This is not a book you can just read by the beach.  You live it.  It paints a picture, a disturbing picture, but it tells a story that needs to be told.  I feel that students need to get the opportunity to read about all parts of history.  At 18, reading this book inspired me to research if this is real–was this real?

Even the cornfield seen is not a “make love” scene.  It is how they were treated.  People who were treated that way aren’t going to have a rosy life.  It is important that children, including my children, understand that these types of stories are based on something real.  The part about the calves is that they were doing that is because they were not going to rape her.  It is not a bestiality-for-no-purpose part of the book.  I don’t like the way it is being thrown around.  They were treated like cows, so I don’t know if they saw themselves as any different.  I don’t know; I wasn’t there.  I think we can’t take away the students’ opportunity to consider the realities of slavery and the way it connects to what we are still living today.  The topic of white slave owners raping the slaves has created a major divide in the black community that exists today in terms of skin color, hair, etc.   The perceived value of a person based on the lightness of his or her skin.  You can’t deny the historical events that still impact our society.

Jennifer Jackson Stewart

I am going to speak generally, but there are going to be some specifics related to this situation.  As my daughter entered the AP literature course, I went through the process of reviewing the list.  In the decision to let her attend public school, I made the decision that the choices she encountered were the ones I wanted for her.  I determined that my daughter was mature enough to select her own literature.  As I was reading Beloved, I invited my daughter to read it with me.  She decided to read The Color Purple and other books in lieu of reading this book with me.  I do believe in the freedom to choose.  I believe God gifted my daughter to me and that I have a responsibility to expose her to the world around her and prepare her for when she is an adult.  While she is living with me, I have the privilege as her parent to discuss the hard things, to sometimes not see eye to eye on things.  As her parent, I have the ability to restrict her when I feel necessary.  If I didn’t take the opportunity to discuss these issues, she would seek them in other places—her friends, society.  As a parent, when I choose to put my daughter in a public school, there are decisions that I may or may not be able to influence.  If I don’t like the opportunities offered by public school, then I have other options like homeschool or private school.  I know that people may say that sometimes you don’t have a choice, but I say that if it is important, you can make it work.   I choose the people who my daughter encounters in her life and put my trust in them to guide her appropriately.  I am very impressed with the AP program and have shared with my daughter that I wish that I had been in the AP program.  As a student, I had teachers who recognized in me the potential to love literature.  Once I had a teacher who saw me reading Forever by Judy Blume.  She asked me if I liked the book and recommended that I might like Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  I later found out that book was on the banned book list.   I was surprised that that my teacher was recommending a banned book, but it being banned inspired me to read it.  My daughter’s  dad and I are not together, but we share responsibility to raise her. We come from two religious backgrounds—Jewish and Christian.  We both had a part in choosing to put her in this AP course.  We have had opportunities to have great conversations.  Literature has been a huge part of her becoming the wonderful child of God.  I would like to say that this [Beloved] has been a wonderful piece of literature  and reading it has helped me become more compassionate and informed.  Even though my daughter did not read this book at this time, but I look forward to discussing in the future.  I think of other books she’s read like Night, Scarlett Letter, The Color Purple, and I know that we could have the same types of conversations about this book.

I did have occasion when my child was a 1st grader where I did not want my daughter to read the assigned book.  She was reading on a 6th grade level and the teacher assigned her a book that was on that level, but that I did not think was appropriate for a young child.  I spoke to the teacher and offered a different book.  I believe the discussion, as you have spoken earlier, is admirable.  As parents, it is important that we be advocates for our children.  However, with all the knowledge and experience that I have, I would consider this an important piece of literature that needs to stay in the library.

Greg Smith

You [J. DeLaughter] said this was a book you wouldn’t want to bring to the beach.  It’s ironic because when I was in college, I did take it on a kayak trip with me.   I was sitting by the water reading the first bit and quickly decided that was not the right time, setting.  It is a difficult book.  It goes back and forth between dialogue, reflection, and narration.  Since then and reading it now, I hadn’t considered it as much.  But reading it is difficult.  But it’s not the words that were pulled out, it’s the context.  It’s an identifiable story with identifiable characters.  I can’t relate to this story because it’s like my life—it’s not.  But I can relate because I’m human.  Enough parents have spoken to see that this is a quality piece of literature that can be handled in the AP English classroom.

I appreciate the passion behind the request for consideration, but I think the people in the room have put more effort into this review than was put into the complaint.  I don’t see a string of consistency between the complaints.  The question on the form, “Did you examine the entire material?” Yes.  Then the same question was answered on a later complaint as “no.”  I have given other assignments to my students on parent requests, and I’ll do it again.  When I have the parents at open house, I encourage the parents to read along with their children and have an open dialogue.  I can’t name a book I teach that might not be next in line, and that scares me.  I don’t want one person making decisions for a whole school, but what bothers me more is the idea of taking the opportunity for free thinking away from students.  There is nothing arousing about Beloved.  It is disturbing, just like the Florida Today news article about the man having sex with his dog.  It’s a disturbing world.  It is hard to pick up the empathy in some news stories. That is where fiction can help develop that empathy.  There is going to be content that is, and should be, provocative of thought.  It should promote questions.  Those questions should be addressed in school and at home.  Not all parents are not always going to know everything that a student is reading, viewing, or even seeing online.  But they have to trust that they have instilled a sense of morals and values that would allow teens, and we are talking about teens, to make the right choices and ask questions when they arise.

I don’t see the need to remove this book for a book that is in an elective course that is a college course.

Rick Fleming

I think we are beating a dead horse.  I think this process works.  In looking at this book, making comparisons to both contemporary and classical literature, there are a lot of other books that are as controversial or more so.  It is my responsibility as a parent to read what my children are reading.  When I look at Shakespeare, The Great Gatsby, The Kite Runner.  You have to look to the expertise of the teacher in bringing the controversial issues to light in the context of their impact on our society.  I see many other things that could be considered more objectionable:   Kite Runner, The Color Purple, etc. that my own children have read and that I had many discussions about.  There are many other things that I personally find more offensive, but in this case or those I don’t see a reason to take away from that opportunity for students.

Angela Aaboutanos

I’ve been sitting here trying to determine what I can contribute to this discussion.  I hear many lucid, convincing arguments from educators and the other parents on the committee.  I feel like this is a conflict at the parent level.  I’ve been involved in these conversations in many ways, from what our teams wear at sporting events to what children are reading.  As parents, the thing that comes to mind is my responsibility as a parent and my civic responsibility.  I feel that I have the right as a parent to choose or support my child’s choices.  If my child or myself determines that it is best to not participate in a class activity, then that is something we have a right to do.  If failing the class is the result, then that is a lesson to be learned if nothing else can be done.  Being there for your child is one of a parent’s roles.  Knowing when and how to handle difficult situations is part of the process.  Waiting until the college level is already too late.  I can’t sit down with my college-age daughter and have those nightly conversations.  Knowing what Syrian refugees are facing,  or that Nigerian girls are being kidnapped.  My children need to know that these are real happenings.  Yes, this book is disturbing.  I have had to read a chapter and go take a walk.  Yes, the things we’ve read are disgusting.  But as a parent you have to choose to protect or prepare.  I can’t keep my children in a bubble their whole life.

Jane Cline

When my daughter was in high school, she had the opportunity to select a book from a list and she chose this book.  One day, I went out where she was while she was reading this book and she was sitting there crying.  I was so blessed to have the opportunity to sit with her and discuss what upset her.  Literature has enabled her to consider the difficult texts with difficult topics and to have us there to support and share.  Literature has enriched her life and helped her become, with her father’s and my influence, the woman she is today.

[Following committee comments, Gina Clark reviewed the 2 options Retain or Remove with the committee and asks them to write their anonymous vote.  She then collected and tallied the votes.  The tallies were written on the white board for all to see.  Greg Smith confirmed each vote.]

Retain-13 votes

Remove-0 votes

Gina Clark

The committee has made a unanimous decision to retain Beloved in both the library and in the AP course.

Thank you for attending and your participation.

4:00 PM Close of committee meeting


The accuracy of hand written notes are poor.

And also the AP reading list permission form requesting a parents’s signature and including a statement to notify parents of controversial issues and mature content.

Never given a statement notifying parents of controversial or mature content.

Only choice offered was to REMOVE or RETAIN…no Option 2 as defined above…which is redundant.


As indicated,there are 2 choices; 

Choice 1 is to Retain, and choice 2 will be to Remove. Retain Beloved in the Medica Center under the existing terms and retain it as part of the Jr. AP Literature Optional Reading List under existing terms. Simply write Retain.

Choice 2 is to Remove Beloved from the Media Center under existing terms.

As listed above, Option 2, which the committee was to consider was never a choice.-“Option 2:  Remove Beloved from media shelf center under existing terms and make it available to high school students only with parent permission only and after notifying parents of controversial content.”




1 thought on “THE EDUCATION OF BREVARD-Part 2

  1. Ham, I applaud your efforts to be involved with your sons education. I submit that there are many other pieces of “literature” that could serve the intent of these “educators”.
    Unfortunately you are fighting a leviathan of faux sophistication in these “we know better than you” bureaucratic wannabe’s.


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