CORNELIUS, NC — An 8th grade reading assignment at Bailey Middle School is still set to begin in October, despite formal complaints about its subject matter, the school’s principal told students and their families Monday night.
The book at the center of complaints is “All American Boys,” which tackles the issue of police brutality. The work is by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, and has won numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Author Honor and the Walter Dean Myers Away for Outstanding Children’s Literature. Says publisher Simon and Schuster: “In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.”
According to WSOC, the reading assignment provoked a complaint from a parent earlier this month. It’s not the first time Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has received a complaint about the book, which has also drawn ire from a local police union.
“The last thing we want is kids to be viewing police officers as a social injustice that they can’t trust. We want them to be able to go towards these officers,” said Chris Kopp, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, WSOC reported.
Bailey Middle Principal Chad Thomas publicly responded to the criticisms Monday, defending the book assignment.
“This book, which has won numerous awards, is not on the banned reading list and has been used by other schools in CMS over the past two years,” Thomas said.
“As with all assigned books, this assignment was thoughtfully planned in accordance with state standards,” he said. “While we respect every member of our community, we are here to build critical thinking skills and present alternative points of view.”
After receiving the complaint, the school district reviewed the book according to its standing review policy and decided to proceed with the assignment, he said.
“We will also invite police officers to participate in the classroom conversations,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ message to parents on Facebook provoked both praise and criticism for the decision.
“It’s a great book, my daughter read it and I did as well. We had great discussions about the book, which is relevant in today’s world,” one person wrote. “Exploration of real world issues, even unpleasant and uncomfortable ones, is critical for children. This is how we teach critical thinking, social awareness, and perspective taking; this is social and emotional learning. Even this dispute is a great learning opportunity for our students,” wrote another.
Not everyone was supportive of the decision, however. “Someone is always going to object to almost every book. Exposure to new ideas is how minds grow. OTOH, as long as CMS book choices adhere to certain one-sided ideology, it does not become expanding minds as much as indoctrination.
Have you or your child read “All American Boys?” If so, what do you think about its selection for the reading assignment? Sound off in the comment section!
Published at Tue, 24 Sep 2019 08:35:00 +0000