Updated: Mar 20, 2021
In previous posts, we discussed the Canyon Independent School District's (CISD) Fall 2020 Freshman English Book Permission & Selection process flow including pitfalls and concerns. This post is dedicated to outlining possible solutions as presented to us by concerned parents and community members in the Texas Panhandle.
Instead of signing a generic 'carte blanche' permission form the first week of school, let's have parents sign book specific forms to ensure clear communication.
Instead of a 'distributed' communication approach, let's move the process to a 'hub' communication approach where the book lists for the entire year are posted in a central, online location for parental access.
Let's do double duty and at the first of the year, send home a paper copy of the yearly book list with the students and also have an email copy sent to parents. The list should also be available in a singular, online location. This covers all bases and errors on the side of caution to ensure parents are aware of the list while not having to constantly be on top of emails.
Let's look into having parents formally confirm receipt of the list and formally confirm six-week selections. This could be done with the same CISD platform that parents use to register their students each year, via a simple google form or even a required signed hardcopy (paper form). This confirmation ensures information is being communicated and removes the likelihood of family values being violated.
We have asked the district to create a rule, policy, or guideline for educators to follow when making book selections. We simply desire something in writing that assures the book selections adhere to guidelines and are not left up to values or beliefs of a small group.
If you can't read it out loud at the City Council meeting, the Lions Club meeting, or a one-act play cannot act it out at school, then our children should not be reading it.
In addition to a written policy, we would love to see community involvement in the book selection process to ensure community values are being adhered to.
When the book selections are posted, we would like to see more detail about each title such as content categories (sex, language, violence, drugs/drinking/smoking, suicide, etc.), profanity count and a link to an online review.
We desire for it to be clearly communicated to the children that if they feel uncomfortable with a title, they can, at any time, select a new book.
If a book contains sexually explicit content, suicide, or anything deemed sensitive, we feel like a permission slip should be required before small group discussions occur and a counselor should be present. This ensures educators are not put in career compromising situations open to violations of their code of ethics, parental rights are protected, and children have appropriately trained professionals as part of the conversations.
We have so many wonderful educators in our district and we are eternally grateful for the hours of love and grace that has been given during this exploratory process. We look forward to helping parents protect their values and understanding what is happening in Texas public schools at the local and state level.
The above is an opinion piece based on personal experience and all available resources presented to our children. Please consult with the district to verify all information and processes.