Tina Williams Letter to Editor 4/25/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2014

Parent finds AR books ‘unsuitable for any age’ 

My name is Tina Williams. My son is in the fourth grade at Batesville Middle School.  Occasionally, I  volunteer at the middle school. I’ve raised three children in South Panola School District over the past 19 years. This is the first year I’ve strongly considered removing my child from public school and homeschooling. 

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Recently, my son brought home a reading book I believed was associated with approved reading for the Accelerated Reading program. This weekend a friend of mine posted on Facebook several pages of a book her fifth grade child was given to read. These books were handed out at school, and on the back of the book my son was reading, it says that the book was donated by Junior Auxiliary of Batesville. 

I can and do appreciate my child being encouraged to read.  What I don’t appreciate is the school having distributed to him a book filled with filth, vulgarity, racism and references to sex, drugs, murder, rape, and other crimes of violence.

Also, I cannot appreciate any club donating books to my child’s school without knowledge of what they are distributing. Nor do I appreciate the school not having knowledge of the content of these books. I’m thoroughly disgusted with this book my child was given to read. I’ve been a victim of violent crimes and theft.  My child has read six chapters in this book, and I can’t remove from his little eyes and brain the garbage he read. 

Chapter one, page one halfway down the page is the first vulgar word. Page one! In the first 18 chapters there is not one chapter without at least one vulgar word, reference to violence or some form of racism and bullying. 

I don’t want my child reading about “juvie” life.  I also don’t want him reading racial slurs, which are a federal crime if you choose to speak them.  It’s called a “hate crime.”  What you read can and does encourage what comes out of your mouth, and it encourages your behavior.  

My child will not be finishing this book. I’m repulsed that he gave up reading his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books for trash such as this. I would like to know what steps are going to be taken to insure this never happens again.

Mrs. Bainer did call me Monday morning, apologizing on behalf of the Batesville Middle School. She also mentioned contacting the president of the Junior Auxiliary, but  I don’t believe this is an issue for the Junior Auxiliary. Though they donated the books in question, they are Accelerated Reading approved.

When I investigated The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, donated by the Auxiliary, it is  approved fourth grade Accelerated Reading material and the school does test on it. There is a possibility since it is AR approved that it would be in the school library as a book that can be checked out at school. There is a full page of self-gratification.  THIS IS NOT READING MATERIAL SUITABLE FOR ANY SCHOOL AGE CHILD. 

Upon further investigation, I’ve found numerous books, listed as Accelerated Reading  approved, that contain any or all of the following: profanity, references to sex, drugs and drug dealing, acts of criminal violence, including rape and murder and racism (directed towards multiple races, including blacks, whites and Indians).  

South Panola Student Conduct Code Section 6 states that “No student will speak or write words that are vulgar, profane, or obscene; no student will act in a vulgar, profane, or obscene manner…” 

If this applies to the South Panola School District, these books should not be permitted in our schools, regardless of whether it’s fourth grade or twelfth grade. It does not take a Superintendent for someone to realize these books encourage profanity, obscenity, gang violence in some, racism in others. 

My child is a fourth grader, and he can still pull up, on his AR web site, through the South Panola School District website, books listed as twelfth grade approved reading, for AR, choose by title and read a filthy book, and still be tested on it because these books are also pretty much available at the public library.

So many times, when there is a student who misbehaves, the finger is gingerly pointed at parents and their lack of parenting.  Well, frankly, this is at the least unacceptable schooling. These kinds of books have little or nothing positive to offer to my child’s or any other child’s education.

The problem is not screening books donated, but screening books already available and accepted by our schools.

I would like to know what South Panola School District plans to do to rectify this issue.

Tina A. Williams