Sunday, July 02, 2006

Comments heard along the way (with responses)

"Lovely Bones is a work of literature." The supporter of some of the books on Olentangy Liberty's mandatory reading lists claim that the books are true works of literature. If those books are works of literature, so is this blog, along with every keystroke and pencil scratch that I have every made.

"They are on the New York Times Best-Seller List!" So what, they are not on any college's list of expected readings for in-coming freshmen - at least not any list that I have every seen.

"It's censorship." No, it's selecting a list of appropriate books. As the woman in the June 30, 2006 Dispatch article notes, she is making Lovely Bones available to her family members. That is still her right and privilege. You can still borrow the book at district libraries and all county libraries, and the book is available at Wal-Mart and Barnes and Nobles, etc. That's a very strange application of the concept of government censorship, and a very weak understanding of the First Amendment - as written and intended, not as applied by activist courts.

"A few pushy parents are getting too involved in the schools." State law in Ohio states that parents are stakeholders and thus equal partners in the school system, though some staff see otherwise. Some parents who complained in the past were harangued and insulted when they wanted less-offensive selections added to required reading lists. Now parents have banded together and are demanding to be heard; that is their right.

"Stop being such a religious fanatic and get a life." Not a very nice way to greet your customers, but it is a very powerful way to get parents to back-off from demanding to be involved in their children's education. Keep in mind that a government-run monopoly will never accept its community as an equal partner.

"Our staff knows best." Really, and this is the reading list they created? Aren't students supposed to be reading the books that will prepare them for college? It would appear from the mandatory list that students are supposed to be reading the top ten list from Oprah and NYT. As one commentator noted, "It is as if some teachers and librarians are working to ban the classics."

"Kids should read these books as they are very interesting." Ok, go ahead and borrow or buy the books and give them to your own children, just don't force them on other's children.

Remember, the flip-side of censorship is indoctrination. The supporters of this list can have their own children read the books, but that is never enough. They DEMAND that your children read them also. In fact, staff has stated that the reason they don't like parental permission slips for controversial - vile - materials and presentations is that "the parents who say no are the ones whose children really need to see the materials." Huh? What makes a unionized labor force, and tax-supported administration, believe they have the right to overrule you in such personal matters? The cry of "censorship" always follows the drive to stop indoctrination.

(If you want to see the heart of the indoctrination efforts, check back later for updates of the platform debates from the NEA annual convention courtesy of Mike Antonucci of the The Education Intelligence Agency.)

Besides the error correction noted in the July 1, 2006 edition of the Dispatch, another error is the claim that this is simply an issue for one Christian parent. In fact, this is an issue for the 70 to 100 parents initially involved, a true cross-section of our community, whose children were effected by the list. The list of concerned parents continues to grow.

Who knows what is best for your children? You, the parent, or someone else? I believe it's you, others do not. They are not concerned about their own children's minds, they are concerned about your child's mind. And that concerns me.

Jim Fedako

note: Some say I'm too critical of all teachers. I would agree if only a few would stand up to this nonsense and be heard. As none have now or in the past, I have no option other than to consider these issues fully supported by the staff. Please, somebody, prove me wrong!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You missed the point. There were four books to choose from. She decided that even though she could choose one that she found acceptable for her son, she wanted the others removed. You say everyone has a choice. They did not. They had a choice to choose from the books she determined to be acceptable.

Just for the record, as a board member I am sure you know there is a policy for such complaints. Your Superintendent that reports to you ... as the keepers of the District, didn't follow policy. Whatever your opinion of the books (which by the way doesn't matter, nor does mine, or B. Reierson's) I'm sure you're a strict believer in policy that you adopted as a government organization.