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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Flower children

I haven't read "the Perks of Being a Wallflower," the epistolary novel of teen angst from the 1990s, so I have no idea how good it is. It got a four-and-a-half star rating from the 1,269 amazon.com readers who reviewed it, but Publishers Weekly was a little snippy, describing it as a "trite coming of age novel" with a protagonist it is hoped will eventually find a suitable girlfriend and "increase his vocabulary."

It does seem to be the sort of book teens rave about, as we all did about "Catcher in the Rye," because its autor seems to "get" youthful anxieties. About 50 of them showed up a a Portage school board meeting to support the book, which had been pulled from the 9th-grade curriculum after a committee review based on a parent's complaint.  But the board decided to stick with the original decision because the book deals with "substance abuse, sexuality and strong language."

A committee made up of administrators, teachers and parents reviewed the book and decided the book shouldn't be part of the ninth grade curriculum, although members did recommend copies should be put in the library.

Students at the meeting said they already deal with many of the issues in the book and that reading it as part of a class gives them the chance to talk to their teachers about them.

The board's decision seems reasonable enough. The book isn't really "banned," since any student can check it out of the library, but the school doesn't have to be seen as giving its imprimatur to the book's message. Everybody wins.

But the students who wanted to talk to their teachers about the book raised a good point. If the book really isn't suitable for students that age, it shouldn't even be in the school. If the board lets it stay in the library, it must not be all that harmful. But if it contains material that requires thought and might raise a lot of questions, is it better to just let students experience the book on their own, or would it be better for an adult to take them through it and discuss the issues involved?

Just asking. Seems like the school board wants to have it both ways and is doing the worst by the kids it can possibly do in the process.

Posted in: Hoosier lore