The parents of some students at a South Carolina public high school are upset over two of the choices offered for a summer reading program.
According to WCBD, English I students at Wando High School in Charleston County were given a selection of books that included two options a number of locals believe are biased against law enforcement.
The two books, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas and “All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, deal with themes of racism and police brutality.
The reading list includes a total of four books, and students are expected to read one over their summer break.
To concerned parents and law enforcement officers, the assignment appears to be a way to inject a particular social viewpoint into the course’s summer program.
Fox News Associate Editor Caleb Parke wrote that a number of locals have described the reading material as “anti-police.”
John Blackmon, who serves as president of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3, said the issue has resulted in significant local indignation.
“Whether it be through social media, whether it be through text message, whether it be through phone calls, we’ve received an influx of tremendous outrage at selections by this reading list,” he said.
Blackmon said his group is calling for the two controversial books to be replaced by what he considers more age-appropriate material.
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal,” he said. “They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions. This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”
A social media debate included numerous calls for a revision of the reading list. Many others wrote that providing students in South Carolina with books that further the conversation on racial equality and police brutality is a good thing.
Principal Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer acknowledged the local controversy in a statement indicating the district is currently considering the request to revise the reading list.
“I understand two of the selections/choices for this summer’s reading list for English 1 College Prep classes are considered controversial by some members of our community,” she said. “I appreciate their concern and input regarding this matter.”
Eppelsheimer confirmed that a “Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials” form was submitted in accordance with district policy and “in connection with the reconsideration request.”
As part of that policy, WCBD reports that a committee will be created to review the complaints. After a hearing that includes statements from the complainant, the assigning teacher and others involved, the committee will make a recommendation to the superintendent.
It would then be the superintendent’s authority to accept or reject the recommendation in a decision that could then be appealed by the board of trustees.
After receiving hundreds of messages expressing concern about the reading material, Blackmon suggested the reading list could have easily been improved.
“There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police?” he said. “That seems odd to me.”
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