How Much Gruesome, Depraved “Truth” is Appropriate in Gilbert Schools?

By the time you read this, the Gilbert School Board may have already voted on whether or not to include certain books on the reading list for K-12.  However, if you missed weighing in this time, there will be many more opportunities.  Issues relating to the deterioration of virtue and morality in the public schools crop up on a regular basis.        

Several parents have emailed the board objecting to these books.  Some will speak out at tonight’s meeting, December 16.  If you wish to speak, please arrive by 6:30 pm to sign in.  The meeting takes place at  Governing Board Conference Room, Gilbert Public Schools, Building B, 140 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, AZ 85296 

Ms. Amy Peterson, who has children in the district, sent an email alerting parents and other Gilbert residents about one particular book titled Beloved.  It was written by Pulitzer-prize winning author Toni Morrison.  The book was made into a movie. (See Christian Spotlight on Entertainment:  Beloved.)    Ms. Morrison’s Beloved has been hailed by literary critics and educational experts as a great work of serious art. Advanced Placement kids are supposedly mature enough to "handle" the subject matter, including graphic beatings, depravity, sex, and aberrational behavior that was the reality of slaves during the Civil War.  

Here’s an excerpt from an email that a concerned citizen wrote to the Board:   

"Beloved depicts a gruesome chopping up of an infant child, bestiality, and rape. Why present such topics in school when students are already being bombarded by inappropriate images and verbiage via the movies, television, and internet? And by approving this author, Toni Morrison, aren’t we indirectly telling teachers that these other books written by the same author are okay"?  

The Bluest Eye, also written by Toni Morrison, is on the Common Core approved reading list (See Appendix B.) The current Gilbert School board removed it from theirs. 

"The Bluest Eye is the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, who prays every day for beauty: for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to fit in. As her life begins to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife, such as being raped by her father and beaten by her mother, she finally appeals to Soaphead Church, a pedophile, to help her attain blue eyes. After being impregnated by her father, she loses her baby and ultimately loses her mind.

"This book includes graphic depictions of incest, rape, and pedophilia. The book actually lets the reader see the depictions from the perpetrators point of view.

"In fact, the author of the book, Morrison, says that she wanted the reader to feel as though they are a “co-conspirator” with the rapist. She took pains to make sure she never portrayed the actions as wrong in order to show how everyone has their own problems. She even goes as far as to describe the pedophilia, rape, and incest ‘friendly,’ ‘innocent,’ and ‘tender.’ It’s no wonder that this book is in the top 10 list of most contested books in the country."   (See Common Core Approved Child Pornography.)  

Ms. Peterson also objects to The Bean Trees stating, "It is a "lesser" in filth book but here is some information about it:  See Novel Reviews:  The Bean Trees.)

"Famed literary critic, Carrie Fleming remarks, ‘….The content, in my opinion, is too mature for some ninth graders: infant molestation, references to pornography, twins having sex in the womb, penis jokes, etc. The bottom line is that it’s a good book for the right audience, but I’d rather let the parents make that decision for their own kids and not suggest it as reading for the entire class.’"

The best writers know how to turn their words into vivid images in the minds of readers.  If the most depraved scenes in these books were in a motion picture, they would be rated N-17, and children aged 17 and under would not be allowed to see them.  The Motion Picture Association respects the role of parents as the ultimate authority of their children and takes great pains to warn parents if a film contains “"violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children."  

Yet, books with this kind of content are easily found in our public school system.  Kids in the public schools aren’t adults, no matter how mature they imagine themselves to be.  Adulthood is reserved for those who have full responsibility for their own households.  

Where do you stand?  If the literary experts agree that a Pulitzer-prize winning author’s work should be read by your child, is that good enough for you?  If newspaper articles and television commentary call you a "book-burning right wing kook" because you dare to stand up for your child in the name of decency and morality, will you back down?   

This isn’t about book banning or being a prude.  It’s about parenting and your authority as a parent.  Who sets the rules in your family?  The schools, your children, or you?  Who has the ultimate responsibility for the upbringing of your child?  The schools, your children, or you? 

Please send an email to the GPS Board and Superintendent Kishimoto:

Staci Burk   

Daryl Colvin  

Jill Humpherys

Julie Smith    

Lily Tram       

Dr. Kishimoto 

See Also:

Fairfax County Parent Wants Beloved Banned from School System 

Motion Picture Association Ratings.  

How does a Movie Earn its Rating?