Dear Officers and Trustees of the PCCS Board of Education,
We are writing to you today as an appeal for our community. The members of the PCCS community have made it clear that we do not approve of book banning or censorship by our numerous letters, emails, comments and statements made at board meetings. Because it is unclear to anyone what the board’s position is on this issue, the letters, emails, comments and statements will keep coming for the foreseeable future.
The board’s silence on this issue is seen as tacit approval of the divisive behavior of the complainant and the political group he has seen fit to involve in this issue. The fact that some of you have a prior relationship with this individual and the political group only tends to give credence to this impression.
There is important work for the board and the administration this year, not the least of which is dealing with the Plante and Moran recommendations in a timely and well-thought out manner. If the board of education is involved in selecting or approving every piece of writing that our students encounter, imagine the chaos that will ensue. How will all of your important work get completed in a timely fashion if you are bogged down in approving every little bit of writing used in a classroom, not to mention the time taken up at board meetings with citizen’s comments? What about articles from newspapers or magazines? Will the board be approving them also? What about a quote from a book or an article? The fact is, we need to trust our teachers and administrators to make these choices. And we believe that they do an exemplary job of picking challenging, yet appropriate literature. Certainly our AP English Literature Exam passing scores, which are at least 20 percentage points above the national average, show this to be true (around 80% as opposed to 58% nationally).
Our current approval system in which literature is chosen and approved through the Park Council (C3 Committee, previously) at PCEP is working extremely well. It should not be changed. There was a discussion by Mr. Maloney and Dr. Hughes which makes a ridiculous accusation that these books weren’t “vetted.” This is not the case.
Another concern for us, in addition to the exponential increase in work for the board of education is that there will be undue influence on the Policy or Curriculum Committees or other committees. Since the complainant has not succeeded as much as he would like (at least for the book, Beloved) thus far, will there be an attempt to hijack those committees or to create another “approval” committee (which may not even be legal under state law) that will be controlled, not by those trained in the curriculum and the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE’s), but by parents or board members? The complainant has already stated that he wants a parent to have veto power over curriculum approval (stated during the first Beloved Review Committee Meeting), no matter what other parents’ or our educators’ opinion or expert advice might be. The aforementioned comments by Dr. Hughes and Mr. Maloney, that these books were not vetted, only increases our suspicion and concern.
We emphasize again that the board’s silence has been interpreted as approval of the actions of the complainant and his cohorts.
We respectfully request to hear from the board on our concerns within two weeks of receipt of this letter.
The 195+ Members of Supporters of Academic Integrity in Plymouth-Canton
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Sent by email and hard copy.