Joined: 25 Oct 2005
|Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:04 am Post subject: Schools chief upholds book ruling
|A coming-of-age novel that contains controversial sexual passages will not be banned from Volusia County public schools.
District officials found that Cracking India, a story set during the country's partition, which references oral sex, is not harmful to minors under Florida law. However, the book will be taught only in upper-level, college-prep English classes.
On Thursday, Superintendent Margaret Smith upheld the recommendations made earlier this month by a 25-member panel of educators and community members. Their vote was nearly unanimous.
"For those students who are in college-level courses, we expect a certain level of intellectual maturity," Smith said.
In the past 15 years, Volusia has rejected about a half-dozen attempts to ban books.
In September, DeBary mother Vikki Reed asked the district not to teach the book in her daughter's 11th-grade International Baccalaureate English class.
At the time, Reed said she had not been fully aware of the book's contents. She did sign a letter agreeing to let her daughter read all class material. Reed said it is ironic that the class teaches respect for cultures and values, yet the district had "no respect" for her opposition to explicit material.
In Cracking India, a young girl named Lenny witnesses her country's upheaval, which also tears apart her family. The passage in question describes Lenny's rebuffing of an older cousin's sexual proposition.
Volusia's panel made other recommendations to stem future censorship debates, all of which Smith upheld. The district will now take extra steps to improve communication between parents and students; review the district's book-selection policy with all teachers and administrators; and develop a standard letter for parents whose children might study sensitive material. The letter will outline parental rights, including the option to choose alternate assignments.
"I won in that they now have to think twice about these kinds of things," Reed said.
She added that she has not decided whether to appeal.