Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Get The Porn Out Of Our Schools: "House of the Spirits" Revisited

On April 4th, 2006, Anchorage voters will be asked to weigh in on three school bonds and three school board seats. Not only does this present us an opportunity to continue the cyclical process of school maintenance uninterrupted, but also to approve projects designed to cope with anticipated future growth. We also have the opportunity to "grade" the Anchorage School District by choosing between candidates for three school board seats. Do the three incumbents earn a passing grade and return for three more years, or do we decide to replace them?

Realistically, this school board has done reasonably well considering the challenges confronted. However, a majority of the school board is not sufficiently impressed with the need to provide the next generation with the strong ethical tools needed not only to become productive, but also to develop character. This majority is much more enamored with diversity and multiculturalism than with character.

This became apparent during a regular school board meeting on March 28th, 2005, when the school board reaffirmed the use of the controversial textbook "House of the Spirits" as a primary textbook for use in Advanced Placement Literature by a 6-1 vote. Only Crystal Kennedy, one of the three incumbents up for re-election, voted against it. The other two incumbents up for re-election, Jeff Friedman and Macon Roberts voted for it. Two weeks later, a revised version of the motion, with a handful of cosmetic amendments, passed unanimously.

This issue arose when an A.P. Literature student appealed the mandatory use of this textbook to ASD's Controversial Issues Review Committee. The committee upheld the use of this book, and so the student appealed to the school board. During the March 28th meeting, the student, accompanied by his father, testified at length before the board. One board member, Jake Metcalfe, pointed out that students are exposed to even worse out in the greater society. However it's much easier to walk away from it in the open environment of the greater society than it is in the captive environment of the classroom. The teacher followed up by testifying in favor of the book.

"House of the Spirits" contains a number of openly pornographic passages graphically describing rape scenes and genitalia. To use this book as a primary textbook makes it appear that ASD implicitly endorses it. It can create and exacerbate negative biases and stereotypes about public education, hindering the passage of school bonds as voters get revenge with their wallets. And don't forget, because of our skewed, unbalanced revenue stream relying so excessively on property taxation, many people who don't use the school district help pay for it with their property taxes. Last year, ASD consumed 47% of my property taxes. I'm willing to pay for effort as well as success, but effort at some point must lead to success.

On the other hand, A.P. Literature is not a requirement, but an elective. A.P. courses are for those proven to be academically superior. They do tend to be more mature than the average student and enjoy more parental involvement. Consequently, it's possible they can handle the spicy character of "House of the Spirits" more maturely than the average wanker.

So this leads to a compromise solution best reflecting both extremes. Allow "House of the Spirits" to be used, but only as a secondary textbook, to be assigned as homework strictly outside the classroom. And during this election campaign, we must let candidates know that we expect our public schools to teach and exemplify those traditional American cultural values which catapulted us to unprecedented power and prosperity. We cannot allow diversity to trump competency any more. There is a reason why First World people live in mansions while Third World people live in huts - First World values are SUPERIOR - demonstrably so. America put men on the moon, not Angola. Let's quit apologizing for it and bending over backward to accommodate inferiority!

Applicable References:

ASD Memo #213, dated 28 March 2005
Meeting Minutes from 28 March 2005
Revised ASD Memo #213, dated 11 April 2005

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2 comments:

  1. that is so ridiculous! if you had READ the book you would realize how much more there is to the novel. it's the best book i've ever read. and plus, we were warned about the explicit situations and told that if we didn't feel comfortable reading it, that we didn't have to and that wa our option. not discussing REAL issues like rape and molestation are worse than discussing them! we can't hide under a bubble without facing reality. gosh.

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