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High School Literature vs. Smut - another reason to consider homeschooling

A few years ago, I took a sound thrashing from some moms (with little kids, nowhere near high school age, but whatever) over this posting entitled, 5 Things to Consider Before Putting Your Homeschool Student into Regular High School!

You can read more about that here here, and here.


My second point in the posting was this:

2.  Mom and Dad will no longer control the curriculum.  Oh, there can be meetings with the teachers and principal and maybe there will be attempts to sway the school board from time to time if things get too out of hand, but for the most part, you won't know what's in the novels that are assigned (because for the most part, they won't be classics that you're familiar with!) and you won't know what's being presented in class that's NOT on the syllabus.
One of my friends was buying a book for her daughter that she needed for a literature class.  While waiting in line, she opened the book and started reading about a pretty explicit sex act!  She had no clue something like that was going to be covered in class at this particular Catholic School. 
Addendum:  I am not referring to Shakespeare or Steinbeck, or any of the classical literature. I am referring to a contemporary novel that was on a reading list at local Catholic school that included a very graphic sex act.  Had I been allowed to comment directly to comments that brought up the point that many classical pieces of literature also allude to sex acts, I would have been able to clarify. 



So it was with great interest that I read this article in the Federalist this week:  Parents Shouldn't Let Schools Fore Kids to Read Smut.


The first paragraph:

Four years ago, Laura Murphy, a mother of four from Fairfax, Virginia, was handed the Toni Morrison book “Beloved” by her son, then a senior at a local public high school. She flipped through the book, reading: “All in their twenties, minus women, f***ing cows, dreaming of rape, thrashing on pallets, rubbing their thighs and waiting for the new girl.”




The article supports my contention that there are books with graphic sexual content, being handed to the students in schools today. This wasn't an aberration that one of my friends just happened to experience; this seems to be more widespread.

The article also backs up my arguments that parents:

  • will have to go to meetings
  • to try and sway the powers that be to their point of view
  • and that parents won't always know what their children are given to read. 
  • And even worse than that, and something I didn't write about - the schools will deliberately try to keep parents from knowing what the kids are reading!


During a meeting with the principal and assistant principal, teachers, librarians, and the English Department chair, an English teacher told Murphy it was important to assign literary material written by best-selling, award-winning authors and if teachers publicly identified books containing sexually explicit material, parents won’t want their kids to read them.

So what is so bad about these books anyway?  In the few samples provided in the article gave examples of sexual intercourse, incest, oral sex, and something that sounded a lot like rape.

I'm a big advocate of classical literature  in high school. It prepares students for more difficult reads in college, it uses rich vocabulary, and it tackles difficult topics in more sophisticated ways.  And despite what the new educators try to tell us, it's also more challenging:

 Stotsky says the reading level of assigned high school texts in a 1907 study was 9.0, and 9.1 in a study from 1923. In a 2016 report, the average reading complexity level of the top 25 texts read by high school students had fallen to 5.6 for eleventh graders and 6.5 for twelfth graders. 

Again, I'm not trying to knock public or private schools- I know there must be some good ones out there. But as I wrote back in 2013- there are some things to consider- and the quality and types of literature the students are supposed to read is definitely one of those things.
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See also this article on Politichicks

The only news I have is that the new district policy has made it easier for teachers to get instructional materials approved, and that parents are still asking for a clear policy on instructional materials so everyone knows what kind of content is going to be allowed- as they have for all other forms of media.  The BOE is looking at all their policies this summer but seems very hesitant to state a content standard for curriculum.  Now individual schools can approve books to go on the district list and parents can only access suggested materials for 30 minutes at the district main office. 

From the Education Reporter

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