Thursday, March 10, 2016

Should Schools Allow Students To “Opt Out” Of Assigned Books?

Virginia might become the first state to allow for parents to have the right to block specific books that their children are assigned in school.  What a nightmare that would be.

Schools in Virginia already have a system to allow kids to opt out of sex education, which is mistake number one.  Now they’ll consider using a similar system to ban certain books for some students.

According to The Washington Post, “The bill would require K-12 teachers to identify classroom materials with “sexually explicit content” and notify parents, who would have the right to “opt out” their children and request that the teacher give them something less objectionable to study”

Students need to be exposed to new ideas, situations, and values – and to discuss them in a classroom setting where peers and educators can shed enlightenment.  To squirrel your kid away and put him or her into a protective bubble is not only undermining that child’s growth but hinders the education process to all.

The idea of a uniform education or course curriculum is that everyone literally is on the same page.  Now we could have kids reading ten different books instead of the same one. 

Imagine if parents start saying they don’t like books not just because sex is in a book but because politics, religion, or other issues come up that they object to.  Where do you draw the line as to what can be dismissed and banned?

Maybe kids’ parents will object to science being taught, or history or ethics.  Will kids opt out of every exercise, event, book, lesson, or lecture that each parent objects to?

Books, especially award-winning fiction, should be in every classroom and all kids should read the same books.  Books create discussions and debates – and that’s a good thing.  But if discussions and debates take place before a book can even be assigned, that’s not such a good thing.

Books merely present viewpoints, idea, facts, or hypotheticals.  They alone can’t dictate what one believes or how they will act.  Same for movies, plays, dance, or music.  It’s the job of the cultural arts to engage us, to expose us to new things and to challenge our assumptions.  Right now kids are only learning about being denied an education, and how adults fear the impact of ideas being shared with our youth.

Virginia may be legislating a new Dark Age.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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