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2. Republic School Board votes to remove books

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Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 10:41 am

At the Monday night Republic School Board meeting, the four school board members in attendance voted 4-0 to remove one book from the school’s library and another from the school’s curriculum.

The vote came as a result of a complaint regarding the books, sent by a community member. Although the community member doesn’t have children in Republic's school system, the board addressed the complaint.

The original complaint mentioned three books: “Speak,” by Laurie Halsey Anderson, “Slaughterhouse-Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut and “Twenty Boy Summer” by Sarah Ockler. Although “Speak” made the cut with the school board and will be kept in the library, the other two didn’t meet the policy guidelines set by the board in April regarding book content.   

“Slaughterhouse-Five,” which was taught in an upper level English class, but not available in the library, will be removed from the curriculum. While “Twenty Boy Summer,” available in the school’s library, was found by board members to be too sexually graphic.

“It’s written to a young audience but when you look at the standards ... the book promotes or sensationalizes sexual promiscuity,” said Republic School Superintendent Dr. Vern Minor. “It portrays drugs, alcohol and tobacco use not consistent with our policy.”

Republic School Board member Denny Lawson, one of the four members in attendance who voted against keeping the two books, said the books simply shouldn’t be there.

“It comes down to a constant evaluation. Neither should have been in the library to start with,” Lawson said. “I wouldn’t want my kids to read it.”

Also voting against the books was Ed Cantrell.

“The book 'Speak' was age-appropriate for high school. The others were appropriate maybe for a college kid, but we’re not going to provide it at our school,” Cantrell said.

Board President Ken Knierim, also in attendance, felt the books just missed the mark altogether.

“We just felt that of the three books, the two we have pulled aren’t age- appropriate and send the wrong message,” Knierim said.

The only voting board member to have read all three of the books—not just the Cliff's Notes, was Melissa Duvall. Duvall considers her vote against the books not so much about the book, but the school’s policy.

“We’re not making a judgment call on if the book is good or bad, we just want to make sure it’s age-appropriate,” Duvall said.         

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  • mitchelka posted at 11:36 am on Tue, Aug 2, 2011.

    mitchelka Posts: 1

    So now and forevermore whenever anyone Googles Republic MO, they'll see it as a town where posturing and ignorance triumph, and censorship wins. Is it a pity or is it deserved? What Republic does *next* will decide.

  • thinkaboutit posted at 8:58 pm on Mon, Aug 1, 2011.

    thinkaboutit Posts: 40

    Why you leaving, Doug T? Don't abandon your argument just because you're losing. Come on back, show us all how wrong we are because we don't agree with you. Come on back, call us more names like, "secular/humanist." BTW, have you ever looked the word secular up? Do you not think that is what our government and extensions of our government (such as the schools) are? If not, I want to see not just YOUR version of God in our schools, but every other version out there in our great, free-to-worship-as-we-please United States of America. Come on, Doug! Can't take the heat?

  • SupremeMugwump posted at 11:55 am on Mon, Aug 1, 2011.

    SupremeMugwump Posts: 1

    Well, at this rate, I guess every school in America, including Republic, Springfield, Nixa, Willard, Webb City, Billings, Ozark, Marshfield, Bolivar, Branson, etc. should do away with its ENTIRE literature curriculum.
    Books and plays that are read year after year in thousands of American schools that you already know or read contain some material that I believe Dr. Scroggins would categorize as “filth” with the capacity to corrupt children on the brink of adulthood. Here are some examples.

    Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet and Julius Caesar contain violent scenes of murder and suicide,
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contain the N-word multiple times,
    The Lord of the Flies: children murdering children,
    To Kill a Mockingbird describes rape, intolerance, racism, immorality and ultimately murder,
    The Scarlet Letter centralizes around adultery,
    Beowulf refers to the devil and includes gruesome violence,
    1984 includes s**
    Frankenstein: murder.

    Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet warn others from being power-hungry and prideful,
    Romeo and Juliet stands as the greatest love story ever written,
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn describes what it means to be a true, caring friend and to stand up against adversaries,
    The Lord of the Flies describes the horrifying consequences of replacing anarchy and unruliness over democracy and a constitution,
    To Kill a Mockingbird promotes education, tolerance, love, and family, while condemning lying, racism, and hate,
    The Scarlet Letter makes a point that everybody should love and forgive one another,
    Beowulf describes heroism,
    1984 describes a miserable, heinous communist-resembling society in which freedom, liberty, and equality are squandered, and censorship, slavery, ignorance, and injustice rule. It advocates democracy and freedom…
    … and Frankenstein declares that our greatness and capabilities will never surpass God’s, and to be wholly responsible for our actions, willing to accept the consequences.

    Never mind, I guess we should keep on reading in school.
    Challenging and banning those books was a huge mistake. Countless lessons like these are being taught to young people within the books’ very pages. And you want to take away those lessons? Shame on you.

    And I would like to send a very enthusiastic "Boo you!" to none other than Dr. Scroggins himself. Keep reading. [wink]

  • maco0710 posted at 5:31 am on Sun, Jul 31, 2011.

    maco0710 Posts: 1

    Congratulations, Bravo! Now that you have banned 20 Boy Summer I'm sure that there will be no more s e x or promiscuity at Republic High School. Wow. I hope other high schools get the message that all they have to do to prevent such a travesty is ban a book. Get real people. Get off of your Christian perch and get in touch with reality. News flash - if you caudle kids through high school and 'protect' them from all of the sins of the world they are going to be in for a shocking reality check when they are on their own. Oh and by the way - typically when you ban something that's all kids want to read. I'd venture to say that kids who wouldn't have otherwise had any interest in these books are now going to be reading them. Once again, Bravo!

  • Doug T posted at 12:30 pm on Sat, Jul 30, 2011.

    Doug T Posts: 4

    I'll probably be done on this comment thread after this post. Your comment said so much more than you meant (I think). "our purpose as parents..."

    Parents have the responsibility to engage their children on social and s e x education issues. Many don't, so they abdicate that responsibility to the schools, who have many, people who are oh so happy to oblige - feeding them their view of how these issues should be handled. They are teaching a social value system - a worldview - to children, instead of reading, science, physics, mathematics, business, etc. which will help them achieve what they desire as their chosen career.

    Dr. Dobson didn't require everyone to bring their children to his "class" on s e x education. He suggests how it might be done via radio and books, then gives people a CHOICE on whether to implement his ideas. What many want in the government school system today has nothing to do with parental choice, and everything to do with presenting a one-sided worldview.

    Properly administered, children and parents would be given a CHOICE - teach Dr. Dobson's views, some other secular view, or neither - to opt out. Today that choice does not exist, partially because many parents don't want to be burdened with having to make it.

  • UnderageAKaganteacher posted at 12:45 am on Sat, Jul 30, 2011.

    UnderageAKaganteacher Posts: 11

    I mean no offense in the post below to any JW that doesn't celebrate his/her Birthday. We believe in celebrating Birthdays and I am just making a point that we all have a right to our own choices.

  • UnderageAKaganteacher posted at 12:30 am on Sat, Jul 30, 2011.

    UnderageAKaganteacher Posts: 11

    Doug, I am completely unaware of any type of s e x education going on in Republic school district for five year olds. Are you slamming Dr. James Dobson because he guides parents to Protect Them From Evil? By Dr. Dobson teaching his daughter at age 5 about harmful, terrifying dangers of being touched inappropriately to safely guide her and her friends he wasn't or isn't teaching them s e x education. There are many sick and mean individuals in this world attempting to gain control of your daughters and sons in their most vulnerable moments. Though we both agree and wish that the precious little ones in our care could be spared from the evil influences in our immoral society --- our purpose as parents for their lives on this earth is to keep on task by teaching them. Again, the book banning will not stop our teens from being abused or wars to stop. Truth and knowledge. You cannot take your teens out of this world but you protect them from evil... Read (John 17:14-15)... I do agree we shouldn't be reading ALOUD the "f" word or the "n" word --- which really upset my child in her 6th grade English class. She felt uncomfortable when the "n" word was read during 6th grade English and has never judged others. Reading aloud in a public school group is different than going to the school library and checking a book out to read privately when your are in H.S. I hope Republic puts these books back in the library at the H.S. we really cannot keep throwing money away for all the school boards lawsuits. I also fear that Wes Scroggin's tactics will only hurt my child now when it's Christmas time. The more Wes picks and bullies the more our Christian values will be completely pushed out of our school district. The Jehovah Witnesses in town already stomp their feet about Kindergarten Birthday celebrations. It's a shame that our children cannot celebrate their Birthday due to someone else's belief. I am afraid that since Wes has bullied and dragged out these books(Twenty Boy Summer & Speak) that are meant for young girls NOT 40 something men --- he's only added injury to allow our children to talk openly about their beliefs. I see the inconsistency in our school district every time I hear things like how the M.S. female principal throws a pizza party for a rebellious, barely dressed 7th grader if she will just go to class for 2 weeks in a row. Myself I would've just went to Wal-Mart and bought her a package of underwear to put on under her skirt. The books are not the issue here. If only it was that easy.

  • Doug T posted at 4:48 pm on Fri, Jul 29, 2011.

    Doug T Posts: 4

    And this is incredible. They want explicit words read out loud, yet this comment filter wouldn't allow my post below because I used the word "s e x" without spaces! Does anyone see the inconsistency?

  • Doug T posted at 4:46 pm on Fri, Jul 29, 2011.

    Doug T Posts: 4

    UnderageAKagenTeacher - It took several decades for the self imposed religion (Col 2:23) of secular humanism to bring minds of adults to the point where they believe it is just fine to teach 5 yr olds s e x ed and require 15 year olds to read the "f" word out loud in front of their peers in the context of "real life" encounters.

    We won't walk out of this overnight. Removal of two books in one school district has caused an uproar and threats of lawsuits. Those who practice their secular/humanist religion have had a free reign for decades. Now that they no longer do, they are not happy. The last thing they want is for the debate of what their religion does to children to move into the marketplace of ideas. But it has begun nationwide.

    Meanwhile, as they practice their religion, they scream "separation" from those who are beginning to do the same. Their ignorance of the 1st Amendment, the phrase "separation of church and state" etc. is being drug into the light. Darkness doesn't like light very much.

  • thinkaboutit posted at 9:54 am on Fri, Jul 29, 2011.

    thinkaboutit Posts: 40

    This will increase the flight of bright students with academically supportive families OUT of RepMO. That will bring scores and percentages down further. Banning books will only exascerbate the situation.

  • thinkaboutit posted at 9:52 am on Fri, Jul 29, 2011.

    thinkaboutit Posts: 40

    Romans, in our great country, you are free to worship any God you want, but you are NOT allowed to use the government, or an extension thereof, to preach your message. You may not, and will not, use RepMO school district to preach to my kids.

    Test scores are slipping for many reasons--but banning books will not make the test scores higher. Why not worry about your own family, and ASK a teacher how you can help if your family is already perfect or refuses your help?

  • AmyinKS posted at 10:25 pm on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    AmyinKS Posts: 1

    The U.S. Supreme Court considered the First Amendment implications of the removal of SlaughterHouse 5, among others, from public school libraries in the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, [457 U.S. 853 (1982)], and concluded that "local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to 'prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'"

  • IMHORep posted at 6:21 pm on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    IMHORep Posts: 3

    As a Republic patron that no longer has kids in the system.... what's all the hubbub about this Kagan system and the French teacher, etc. Glad my kids are grown. But, hey "inappropriate" relationships in the school is nothing new. P.H. just didn't renew contracts and made it someone else's problem.

  • RepMOParent posted at 4:39 pm on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    RepMOParent Posts: 8

    You're correct "Romans116" your work is not finished. Why ban only 2 out of 100's of what could be someone's perspective of evil inappropriate books? Republic academics are behind other area schools. Maybe Wes and Romans can help Republic. The board obviously takes Wes seriously. Now maybe Wes & Romans can investigate Kagan cooperative learning, inappropriate volleyball spandex and who the 2011 Fall French teacher was once married too and why she took someone else's job. There's a lot of evil, let's reclaim our morals and get all the immoral activity out of our public school. Hey Romans I would rather not throw my tax dollars at a soccer field. I would like to have more academically challenging courses offered in the M.S. and H.S. and leave Kagan as an option for the elementary students.

  • romans116 posted at 3:53 pm on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    romans116 Posts: 2

    Hey Wes, our work is not finished! Someone said there are more books that we need to look at. Maybe we can revisit "Speak," they missed that one. The Republic School District is falling; sorry, I mean, way behind in academics and all they want to do is throw money at it. And before someone "freaks out" yes we have tried to address the academic problem in Republic as well and will continue to do so. Maybe you can help?????

  • RepMOParent posted at 11:29 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    RepMOParent Posts: 8

    Please Russell Thayer take a day off and go through the Republic H.S. library and remove any books you find immoral. Since you can say "Morality" and your so thankful for the censorship and banned books from Wes Scroggin's complaint, I think you should also work on cleaning up our H.S. library. Nevermind our student's are falling behind in academics let's work on a new soccer field and spend a year making up a fake task force to ban two books on the tax payers... And, let's not forget about what is going on with the State regarding Kagan! Can you say "Morality", Russell?

  • RepMOParent posted at 11:05 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    RepMOParent Posts: 8

    My child has more integrity, kindness, morals, values in her pinky finger than Wes Scroggin's entire clan. Banning books is never a forward moving action. The National Coalition Against Censorship has some of the most highly achieved experts and Christians setting on their board. They don't discriminate or judge. Why does Wes Scroggins and Mr. Minor believe they know more than God? When Wes Scroggins started judging Republic that is exactly what he is stating that he knows more than God.... or I believe in God and I read banned books. What's next Republic? All girls must wear their hair in buns. No make-up on any female teachers. Only cross necklaces can be worn for jewelry. All boys will cut their hair above their ears. No one is permitted to read anything but the Bible. Anyone caught enjoying reading will be expelled. Any Republic family caught at the Campbell 16 will be asked to leave the district. Where does the banning stop? How can one person (Wes - Westboro- Fred-Phillips-Scroggins) decide on what our district should have in their library?

  • AssessandEvalRep posted at 10:53 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    AssessandEvalRep Posts: 9

    Missouri School district bans 'biblically contrary' novels by Kurt Vonnegut and Sarah Ockler. Republic online community read This young teen asks Mr. Minor many questions about his curriculum goals and censorship. It's a must watch.

    Students that read are not immoral! Students that are allowed to read can make decisions for themselves with guidance from their own parents.

  • Russell Thayer posted at 10:52 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    Russell Thayer Posts: 1

    I would like to thank Dr. Wes Scroggins and the Republic School Board for making a stand, especially when its not a popular one. I'm not even going to responed to some of the comments made in favor of keeping the books because you just don't get it! Can you say "MORALITY."!

  • UnderageAKaganteacher posted at 10:28 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    UnderageAKaganteacher Posts: 11

    School board: google Wes Scroggins and Reclaiming Missouri for Christ.

    Wes yelled "Jump" and Mr. Minor said "How High?"

  • UnderageAKaganteacher posted at 10:25 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    UnderageAKaganteacher Posts: 11

    Doug, so do 100% of the Republic H.S. library books back Mr. Minor's proposed morale curriculum? I don't agree with you that Sarah Ockler is a "peddler of explicit" material. Doug, have you seen what the Republic volleyball team wears as a uniform? The spandex undies don't give any sense of morality. Yes, I said it. Volleyball can be played in another type of shorts that are not so "showing". We have a great volleyball team here, why Doug, do you suppose it's okay for them to wear these tight fitting smaller than most underwear spandex? Why is it okay for our students to wear "I love Boobies" bracelets? The money for the cost of those bracelets does not go to really assist any woman with breast cancer; it goes to support a immoral artist living in San Diego....

    Doug, I agree "today's "politically correct" culture isn't always what is right. But, banning books from a school library when there are many, many more that don't promote the Bible in the library destroys any sense.

    Republic's superintendent wasting all this time and tax payer money discussing three books that upset Wes Scroggins does not move us forward into assisting our children with higher test scores. Our children are behind in the Republic curriculum. If you want to discuss morality, call Mr. Minor about what one of his administrators was caught up in about a year and half ago. That did not set a moral standard for our students or our adults.... Children are being exposed to "adult" material earlier in life --- if parents are doing their job; children will be able to protect themselves from assaults or possibly inform a school friend that it is wrong that someone is hurting them sexually. Informed children are not immoral!

  • Doug T posted at 8:16 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    Doug T Posts: 4

    Doing what is right isn't always popular. Especially in today's "politically correct" culture. I applaud the school board for making a difficult, yet correct decision.

    Children today are being exposed to "adult" (read explicit) material at earlier and earlier ages in our schools - and anywhere else the peddlers can get it in front of them. There is no reason for this, other than to destroy any sense of morality. Yes, I said the word "morality!"

    For those that believe the books are good for the children because they are "college material" and will give the kids a "better education." You need to ask the school board to produce the district's standardized test results. They are not good. So much for this material helping them get a better education.

    Like it or not, there is a renewed interest in actually solving some of our nation's problems. It isn't just about the budget problems in Washington. It includes the poor education many children receive in our current school system. People can rant and call names all they want. The statistics and numbers do not lie.

    Republic School Board - thank you for taking a step in the correct direction! Your example and courage will be noticed by others, and this is what those who stand in opposition fear the most. Stay strong!

  • romans116 posted at 7:23 am on Thu, Jul 28, 2011.

    romans116 Posts: 2

    Thank you to the school board for removing the two books. It has been a long time coming. Also, thank you to Mr. Minor and Dr. Wes Scroggins for standing up against such darkness. I cannot believe anyone would want these books in their school system?? What trash. Classic lit???? Give me a break. Now if we can just do something about the failing test scores. God is not to be mocked, whatever you sow, you shall also reap.

  • IMHORep posted at 9:43 pm on Wed, Jul 27, 2011.

    IMHORep Posts: 3

    Think, when reading the board members' comments. One said Slaughterhouse was more appropriate for college students. Not that it was college level. The writing certainly isn't college level. They are simply applying their new guidelines for high school.

    I would love to hear the answers for your other pointed questions. But, I'm guessing that will never happen. What do you bet?

  • thinkaboutit posted at 9:27 pm on Wed, Jul 27, 2011.

    thinkaboutit Posts: 40

    This is what the Board and Sup are saying: Our school system cannot provide academically challenging courses. For those, go to college, but not a good college, because we cannot provide academically challenging courses, so you won't get in those. Thank you for your business (tax money used to pad minor's bank account and retirement fund) and have a nice day.

  • thinkaboutit posted at 9:24 pm on Wed, Jul 27, 2011.

    thinkaboutit Posts: 40

    IMHO--Tell me, how is it that the board and sup ban one book (Slaughterhouse 5) because it is college level, and then offer dual credit courses and college courses for gifted and bright students? They are talking out both sides of their mouths, to put it mildly.

    Anyone, please respond to these points:
    1. why did Dr. Minor have 4 drafts of the book standards created by unknown people before he recommended the standards to the board? Was there answer-shopping going on?
    2. Who sat on each committee that created and then amended each draft?
    3. Where is the transparency?
    4. Why are they removed from the library entirely? Why not have a mechanism in place to allow parents to restrict what their child checks out, if they are so inclined?

    I probably have more questions, but we can start there.

  • IMHORep posted at 8:42 pm on Wed, Jul 27, 2011.

    IMHORep Posts: 3

    Thanks to the school board members who were present! It's good to know where everyone stands. I support your decision in removing the two books. I just wish the third were gone too.

    I wonder if the reading level of the books chosen for high school English classes is even considered. I know Speak is a popular book.... but geesh. It's written at a reading level of 3rd - 6th grade. We have a dumbed down, adult-themed book to read out loud in class and discuss the "cliques" we belong to. It's being used as a psychology course during English class! That angers me. These kids are not being challenged academically to read and understand upper level English literature.
    Finish the work and don't back down.

  • thinkaboutit posted at 11:23 pm on Tue, Jul 26, 2011.

    thinkaboutit Posts: 40

    How very brave you are, Melissa--or just so sick and tired of the school system's downward trend.

    If our Administration and BofEd cared as much about academics as athletics, they might see what fools they made of themselves and our city.

    BTW, i have a nice house i'll need to sell soon so my kid can go to a quality public school--only thing is now the value has gone down again! First cooperative learning, now book banning. Gonna be hard to sell any homes in this school district now...

  • MelissaCarterPamperien posted at 7:30 pm on Tue, Jul 26, 2011.

    MelissaCarterPamperien Posts: 1

    The book "Speak" is appropriate for Middle School girls. Especially at our H.S. they need to be prepared. "Twenty Boy Summer" is about 2 girls struggling in the aftermath of a major tragedy, with grieving parents and unfamiliar situations and secrets that threaten to kill their friendship. Wake up Melissa D.; Ken; Denney & Ed: Teens do experience devastating loss and they have told many of us adults how much the book meant to them...Any book that addresses the topic of "Speak" is definitely NOT pornography unless you get hawt at the idea of raping a young girl...I might never have read all those "inappropriate" Judy Blume books in the 6th grade had they been banned from the Library. If you believe that the Republic School Board & Vern Minor had the best educational interest in mind for our H.S. students by banning/removing these books; I have some swampland in Colorado to sell you. Ignorance isn't bliss. Burying your heads in the sand isn't a good idea. Knowledge is power. How else are you supposed to make an informed decision?

    "Slaughter House Five" was the same book discussed in the 80's movie "Footloose" over a backwards, narrowminded, prejudice town that banned the book.

    My opinion here is to BAN all money spent on dumbing down Kagan tools, materials, coaches and to have the school district of Republic REIMBURSED for every dime spent to the Kagan marketing industries.

    This banning/removal is just yet another bullying tactic that the administrator and school board have on our teachers.

    Tip~Tip my shoulder buddies, Ed & Denney "Step away from the Kool-Aid". MP

  • stdepi posted at 7:27 pm on Tue, Jul 26, 2011.

    stdepi Posts: 1

    "Slaughterhouse Five" is completely appropriate for adolescents and read in high school classes around the English-speaking world. I read the book with my English class in the tenth grade and am dumbfounded that anyone could think that there is a single word in the novel that an adolescent cannot comprehend and withstand. Removing it from the curriculum and the library? Barbaric.

    And Earth to Dr Vern Minor: use of drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) and sexuality are part of our human society, and is something that adolescents think about. You find discussion of these things distasteful, but the literate find the stifling of such discussion to be reprehensible.

    Each and every member of the school board should be fired.

  • cmcmillen posted at 12:02 pm on Tue, Jul 26, 2011.

    cmcmillen Posts: 1

    [sad] Shame on the school for censoring classic literature. Vonnegut enriches lives and intelligence. I will look at the bright least the smart kids who know who Vonnegut is will realize how myopic and fascist Republic is and will get the heck out that town!