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Education Reporter

More Bad Books Rile Parents
The lead article of the May Education Reporter recounted the sagas of a number of parents battles against unsuitable books in schools. More information on that topic has since poured in.

A new web site, parentsaware.net, has been launched with information about books marketed to young and teen readers. Examples of books it says are to be avoided include:

  • Boy Meets Boy, an openly gay book aimed at kids 12 years old and up

  • Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged, also for readers 12 and older, which contains a scene of bestiality

  • 33 Snowfish, for readers 15 and older, about three teenagers including a parricide, a prostitute and a boy kept by a pornographer making pedophilic movies; it uses the "s-word" about 163 times and the "n-word" about 55 times in 179 pages

  • Swear to Howdy, for children 8-12, with details on loading and shooting a rifle, killing a family cat and a near-suicide involving a rifle muzzle in a characters mouth.

Despite a grandfathers complaints, Walter the Farting Dog will remain in the library of a Wisconsin elementary school after the school board voted 4-3 to keep it. (couleenews.com, 5-7-04)

A California school board voted 4-3 to keep Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA on the districts reading list after a parent asked for its removal. The book, which contains scenes of graphic violence and sex, including a detailed rape scene, has raised objections in several other communities according to the complaining parent. Twelve speakers who addressed the Modesto school board were split on the merits of the book. (modbee.com, 12-16-03)

While there is no prospect of keeping Dr. Seuss books out of schools, not everyone is a fan. The Childrens Literature Review, vol. 1 assails the Seuss books themes of anti-authoritarianism, environmentalism, black magic and Zen Buddhism as well as their use of nudity and subliminal images.

Videos spark indignation
Video technology has brought a newer source of inappropriate subject matter to classrooms. A Florida substitute teacher was suspended with pay pending an investigation for allegedly recording a lengthy videotape of his students taking turns rapping to the camera and uttering profane language. The teacher can be heard cussing and making graphic sexual comments as other students stand guard at the classroom door, according to a father of one of the students, who brought the tape to the attention of school board officials. (FirstCoastNews.com, 5-25-04)

And in the San Diego area, parents were outraged that teachers at two high schools played for their classes the graphic video or audiotape of the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg in Iraq. One of the teachers, in an art and photography course, reportedly told students, "Thats why we shouldnt be at war." Administrators acted swiftly to condemn the playing of the tapes. (nbcsandiego.com, 5-15-04)

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