Sunday, July 09, 2006

Response to Columbus Dispatch Editorial

Letters Editor:

The Dispatch normally hits the mark with its editorials but its editors went wide with their editorial on the Olentangy Libery High School's required summer reading list in the paper's July 6, 2006 editorial, "Offer a choice."

Oh, come one now. There were over 170,000 books published in 2005 alone, nearly a million books published since the year The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time hit the shelves. Choices abound in the US book market. No books were banned, they are still available in district libraries, Delaware County libraries, and at Wal-Mart, Barnes and Nobles, etc.

No one removed any choice from any parent or child in the district. These books can be borrowed, bought, or exchanged in any manner desired. The issue is simply this: Out of the tens of millions of books published over time, which ones are best suited to challenge children in preparation for college and beyond?

Any book that makes it on a required reading list had better be the best of the plentitude available. This means that there has to be a good reason to select a book. None of the books in question are on any college recommended reading list that I have ever seen. In short, they are not college-prep reading material.

The books are popular, but they are not appropriate. In fact county libraries place these books in the adult section, not the teen section. A 14-year-old's description of her own rape is never appropriate for any required reading list. With many classics to choose, not to mention the other millions of books available, the Dispatch should be asking why an Olentangy English department chairwoman believes this book needed to be read; non-college material in a college-prep course nonetheless.

Jim Fedako
Member, Olentangy Board of Education

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"None of the books in question are on any college recommended reading list that I have ever seen. In short, they are not college-prep reading material."

A simple google search, using search words of "Contemporary Literature College courses" and then the titles as a subsearch, will bring up colleges like Northwestern, Tufts, Indiana University, Case Western Reserve University, and Bryn Mawr. These schools all use one or the other in classes such as the freshmen year survey course or a Contemporary Literature course. Reading the books ahead of time will greatly prepare students to contribute effectively in discussion as well as give them a greater chance of achieving in courses similar to these. Is this not "college prep"?

As challenging the Olentangy student to "Maximize their learning" seems to be something of great importance in the district, why is having challenging literature so wrong? And furthermore, these books were not mandatory, they were options that could be chosen by the student and/or parent.

And I would like for you to post the Delaware Gazette letter you submited. Along with the letter, please submit your data stating the number of Olentangy students having to take "remedial English" in college. With the data, I'd like to see its origination, how it was compiled, etc. Such a strong statement should really have statistical proof so it doesn't just seem like psychotic ramblings.