NBHS – A committee at North Buncombe High School has decided to give a controversial book the boot. North Buncombe High School’s Media & Technology Advisory Committee (MTAC) made the recommendation after several complaints were received about the book’s incestuous, rape passages.
“Last month at North Buncombe High School, we received an objection under Policy 3210 to the use of a supplemental text within an 11th grade Honors English classroom,” said Buncombe County Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin at the October 5th Buncombe County School Board meeting. This is according to a document sent to the Tribune by schools’ Director of Communications Stacia Harris.
Policy 3210 allows parents and students to review the source text that students will use during a class and “...file his/her objections in writing by completing the...” 3210R form. “The complaint shall be forwarded to the school’s...” MTAC.
“I want to thank [North Buncombe Principal] Dr. Samantha Sircey and the school’s MTAC for conducting the review in such a timely manner. The decision and subsequent recommendation from the committee was that “The Bluest Eye” will no longer be used as an instructional material for 11th grade English courses at any academic achievement level – Standard, Honors, or Advanced Placement,” said Baldwin. Read more...
He went on to say, “However, the committee provided a non-binding opinion that the book could be considered for use as an instructional resource for 12th grade Advanced Placement, as deemed appropriate by that particular teacher. I received notification this afternoon that Dr. Sircey discussed the committee’s decision and suggestion with the school’s English and Language Arts faculty. In conclusion, while the committee’s work was respected and appreciated, the department expressed a decision to identify a substitute resource to “The Bluest Eye” to be used at all grades and levels of instruction.”
Asked what the substitute text would be and would “The Bluest Eye” be used for the rest of this semester, Harris replied, “‘The Bluest Eye’ is no longer on any syllabus at NBHS. No decision has been made on the alternate text. The English department continues to explore options for future use, but this is not pressing since the class has moved past this unit, this semester.”
Baldwin also addressed the 3210 procedure and the parent’s use of it by saying, “I think it is important to recognize the value of Policy 3210 and the process it supports to provide the student and/or parent an opportunity to either opt for a substitute resource or express an objection to the initial selection. This is the second book challenge in recent memory, and I believe in both cases the local committees have given fair and due process to the decision - making procedure.”
He also pointed out that it was important that quality time be spent in looking over the resource text for the class by saying, “I also think it is important to recognize the importance for all stakeholders to dedicate quality time to carefully reading the course syllabus that is provided to each student within or prior to the first week of class. This certainly maximizes the value of Policy 3210.”
Last weeks headlines
Book cause of
concern for some
By Clint Parker
NBHS – A book that is centered around an incestuous rape is causing concern for some parents. The book came to the attention of the Tribune when a member of the community contacted one of our reporters about the book, “The Bluest Eyes” by Toni Morrison, an American novelist, editor, teacher, and professor emerita who, in the past, has won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.
A post on Facebook by Angela Randall Anderson has also helped to stir community discussion about the book (see plot summary on page 16).
According to Stacia Harris, Director of Communications for Buncombe County Schools, “The book has been used recently in an English III Honors classroom. To our knowledge, this book has been part of the honors English curriculum in past classes for several years with no objection to the text. As is our standard procedure, at the beginning of the school year, a syllabus was provided to all students in this class and their parents. This syllabus provided a list of books that would be covered as part of the curriculum.” Read more...
Harris added, “We encouraged parents to look over the list and bring any concerns to the teacher. Parents are able to opt their child out of an assignment on the syllabus, and the teacher will provide an alternate assignment.”
Asked for an interview with North Buncombe High School Principal Dr. Samantha Sircey, Harris told the Tribune, “Dr. Sircey is unavailable for an interview.” However, Harris did make Eric Grant available for comment. Grant is the English, Language Arts, Social Studies Curriculum Specialist for Secondary Schools in Buncombe County.
Grant told the Tribune that “The book is not required reading. The grade level it was assigned in was eleventh grade and was actually an eleventh grade honors class. It was a class assignment and with all our class assignments students/parents always have the option to request an alternative text if they were to find something objectionable...to that extent I would say that we don’t have any books that are absolutely required, if that makes sense.”
“The teacher provided a list of texts that were going to be studied per unit throughout semester and on that list of books there was...a disclaimer explaining that some of the books contained potential objectionable material and if there were concerns that students would be provided alternative texts.” He went on to say that the book has been used many years before...so it’s not the first year the book has been taught.” He added, “This is the first time I’m aware of controversy getting to this level around this book.”
Harris also provided the school policy on controversial books. The policy is two and a half pages long. The highlights of the policy are:
That the state school board provides “an opportunity for parental input in the selection of materials. While parents have the opportunity to participate in the selection of materials, concerns about instructional materials used in the school system may still arise. Thus, to further involve parents in the education of their children, the board also provides opportunities for parents to review instructional materials and a process for parents to use when they object to instructional materials.”
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Water moratorium lifted at meeting
By Clint Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
Weaverville – The water started flowing again at Weaverville’s Town Council meeting Monday evening (Sept 18) when, among a number of items on the agenda, the board voted to rescind the moratorium on requests for water from outside the town limits.
The motion passed after a workshop on the water plant expansion was held on Tuesday evening (Sept. 12) and there Public Works Director Tony Laughter announced that the Monticello Common project was dead. That freed up over five percent of the total water capacity of the plant (see story page 8). Laughter was not present at the regular town meeting because of health reasons, but had said at the workshop that his recommendation was to remove the moratorium.
The board also created a new board called the Town of Weaverville Recreation Advisory Board. Town Manager Selena Coffey said that the move would help the town in an effort to win a grant to help with the Lake Louise Community Center project where the town voted last month to pursue the building of a new facility. The board will be made up of the citizen members of the current Lake Louise Preservation Board with the addition of Beth Mangum and Nicole Ogg. Read more...
In other actions the board also passed an update to the town code ordinances that will remove out-of-date and no-longer-used codes. They passed a commercial building water meter for Danny Joe Brown at 431 Old Marshall Hill Highway and heard a brief overview of public water development fees, but took no action.
They also appointed Councilman Patrick Fitzsimmons to take Councilman Doug Dearth’s place on the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization and Transportation Advisory Committee come October. Dearth will be vacating his seat on the council as he chose not to run for re-election.
A resident who did not identify himself to council had a couple of questions during public comment time about the Lake Louise private development project occurring next to Quarry Road. He asked about the transfer of the land to the town, to which Jennifer Jackson, the town attorney, said that it was in the works. He also was concerned about the soil erosion fences, to which Councilman and Vice Mayor John Penley directed him to Buncombe County who oversees such matters.
In the town manager’s report Coffey addressed recent tree cutting by the power company without informing the town of the process and therefore the town had no knowledge of or control over it (see additional details in story page 5).
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