by Donna Garner
Katy School Board, Katy, Texas, Oct. 29, 2012 -- http://katyisdtx.swagit.com/
Please go underneath the screen, scroll down to “VII Open Forum,” and click on it. Then go to marker 13:58 where a Katy ISD parent named Cindy Morris begins her testimony.
Ms. Morris addresses the objectionable Advanced Placement (AP) literature that is being taught to her child and to other students in the KISD. Her testimony ends at marker 17:09.
Ms. Morris gives an excellent presentation as to why AP literature books such as A Thousand Acres are highly inappropriate for students. Because children were in the audience, Ms. Morris (and Ms. Coleman, who testified before Ms. Morris on the same subject) did not read the quoted passages from the AP literature books to which they were objecting; but they did submit specific examples in hard copies that they handed to the KISD Board and administration.
Ms. Morris stated that various AP literary pieces chosen by the KISD contain frequent references to rape, incest, sexual abuse, salacious graphic images, sex toys, sexual acts, pornographic material, repeated incidents of suicide, foul language, erotic acts, recipes for bomb making, self-destruction, using human fat to make soap, and constant sexual abuse.
Ms. Morris said that these books cause students to “wallow in the gutter of human behavior” and that students are overwhelmed with the salacious content rather than learning the AP elements of symbolism, literary devices, and social meaning that can so readily be learned from enlightening, challenging, and inspiring pieces of literature.
Ms. Morris concluded by saying, “I find it ironic that Images in a magazine are defined as pornographic; but when a writer creates such images or worse via words, we honor it as literature.”
Even though AP classes can be some of the best vehicles through which students can gain academic rigor, there has always been a potential danger because AP classes have always worked basically outside the state-adopted curriculum standards. The AP curriculum and tests are separate from the state-adopted curriculum standards and tests.
Over the years, I have had real concerns about many of the literary selections recommended by AP.
What AP does is to train AP teachers at AP conferences by giving them recommended AP units to teach. AP tells the teachers that they do not have to teach the recommended units but that if they don’t, then their students will not be prepared for the AP exams. Therefore, AP teachers end up going along with the AP-prepared units.
Unfortunately, AP has wandered far away from its original emphasis on the great literary classics and has brought in such gross and perverse literature as A Thousand Acres. As Cindy Morris indicated, this type of text when put into students’minds haunts them and destroys any naivety that they once had. The great pieces of classical literature can teach students all of the sophisticated literary analysis that they need without teachers having to place pornographic literature into students’ hands.