A committee assembled by Plymouth-Canton Community Schools administrators voted Friday to keep Toni Morrison's Beloved in AP English Literature classrooms.
The decision comes after a two-week review process after parents Matt and Barb Dame , because of what they characterized as inappropriate sexual themes and violence.
Superintendent Jeremy Hughes pulled Waterland from the AP English classrooms, but later said it would receive its own review. At that time, Beloved also was being challenged, so it .
Both the Dames and teachers Brian Read and Gretchen Miller presented their cases Jan. 11 to the committee, which included teachers, librarians, administrators, parents and one college instructor. The committee members' votes were anonymous, according to a statement from the district.
Superintendent Jeremy Hughes had said he would support the committee's recommendation.
The debate over the book had escalated during the past week, in the process. Parent groups on both sides of the issues, the , or P-CAP, and Supporters of Academic Integrity in Plymouth-Canton, formed to mobilize support for and against removing the book, respectively.
A message was left with the Dames on Friday afternoon seeking comment after the committee's decision was released to the public and media.
John Nichols, a parent in the district, said he agreed with the committee's vote.
"I think it was a very wise decision," he said. "I hope that our school district does not get watered down and take away from more important things in the future."
In an email, Supporters of Academic Integrity in Plymouth-Canton, a parents group opposed to removing books from classrooms, said it commends the review committee on its decision.
"We strongly agree with this decision and the support it gives to our teachers and their right to determine what materials to use in their classes without interference."
The district issued the following statement this afternoon:
Per the vote of the nine member Complaint Review Committee, it is recommended that Beloved, a novel by Toni Morrison, remain in the AP English curriculum.
On December 20, 2011, parents Matt and Barbara Dame filed an official complaint (via form 9130 F2) related to the use of Beloved in the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park Advanced Placement English course.
Per the administrative guidelines for Board policy 9130, a Complaint Review Committee was convened to develop a recommendation to determine if Beloved should be removed from the AP English curriculum.
The committee met on January 11, 2012 to hear oral presentations from the complainant (Mr. & Mrs. Dame) and respondents (Brian Read & Gretchen Miller). After the oral presentations, the committee deliberated. The committee met again on January 17 to further deliberate. The committee concluded these deliberations and voted anonymously.
The committee used the following criteria in their evaluation of the novel:
- the appropriateness of the material for the age and maturity level of the students with whom it is being used
- the accuracy of the material
- the objectivity of the material
- the necessity of using the material in light of the curriculum
Because P-CCS Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Hughes previously stated that he would honor the recommendation of the committee, Beloved will thus continue to be used as a resource in the P-CEP AP English course.
The Supporters of Academic Integrity in Plymouth-Canton released this statement today:
We, the Supporters of Academic Integrity in Plymouth-Canton, commend the review committee for their conscientious work in approving Beloved for the Advanced Placement English course at the
Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (the Park). We strongly agree with this decision and the support it gives to our teachers and their right to determine what materials to use in their classes without interference. The committee’s decision ensures this course will maintain the academic rigor that has allowed students at the Park to score well-above average on the Advanced Placement English exam for many years. We look forward to working with the superintendent and the school board to also have Waterland reinstated as quickly as possible while cooperatively discussing a path forward to prevent
these types of disruptions in the future.
Stay tuned with Patch as we follow this issue.
Editor's note: The name of Gretchen Miller has been corrected. It was stated incorrectly in an earlier version of this story. We apologize for the error.