Danbury parents protest 'vulgar' book

A group of parents, most with eighth grade students at Danbury Middle School, have banded together to protest what they say is a vulgar book their children had to read aloud in language arts class.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 14, 2013
More than a dozen people spoke at the Danbury school board meeting Wednesday night about "Fallen Angels," a 1988 novel by Walter Dean Myers that centers around the life of a teen who enlists in the Marines and experiences controversy within his unit.
Most of those who spoke took issue with severe language in the book and asked why they weren't made aware of the content before students had to read the book aloud in class. Others expressed support for the book and teacher Tim Heffernan.
In response to the outcry, parents and students have been given the choice of an alternative book, "Johnny Tremain."
For more on the book controversy, pick up a copy of Friday's Register.



nickelodeon sponge bob Disney channel even I have heard words and situations that bother me I think they are exposing kids to too much stuff
I have not read either book listed here but I would rather my kids READ ANYTHING rather than watch tv or play video games anybody remember catcher in the rye?


Johnny Tremain features graphic deformity and revolutionary extremism.

The Bizness

Catcher in the Rye is still read in many high schools.

The Bizness

or how about The Chocolate War? That was a good high school read


If you think your children will never hear bad language or encounter vulgar situations in life, then you are ignorant and unrealistic. Life is good and bad, wonderful and awful, ecstatic and violent. One has to be cognizant of both to successfully function in society. You cannot protect your children from the terrible side of life. You cannot censor the news or books to hide the truth from your children. You are doing them a disservice by pretending that life is all good and clean and sweet. It's not.


I do think that teens in school can be influenced one way or the other. When I was in high school the school principal was also the chemistry, physics and science teacher.

One day the chemistry lesson finished a little early and he gave us one of his life lessons talks I feel because he really cared for us.

He talked about swearing and foul language and told us that he knew of only reasons that people used that kind of language. He said that one reason is that they are immature and it makes them feel big and the second reason is that they are lacking the proper vocabulary to express them selves with out using foul language as fill words.

Thinking about what he said I felt that he was correct and I did not wish to express myself in an immature way nor did I want people to think that I lacked a sufficient vocabulary to express myself without using foul language and to this day I do not use that kind of language

indolent indiff...

thats funny, I listened to an argument in a school about a month ago between a teacher and a student. it was F this and you are a MF and you are a worthless B. at least they are reading something and not you tubing lesbian kissing movies

The Bizness

Whats wrong with that? haha

My Opinion is...

I love people who try to live under a rock and then when their children are grown they have no idea what the real world is like and can't function in it.


You are right on! I hate vulgar words and remember the first time I heard them used. I must have been in my middle 20's. Two people (who did know how to use them) got into an argument. I was traumatized for weeks!!! Now almost every book I pick up has those words or a very explicit sex scene in it. And if the kids watch any TV, they know them. They might bleep them out, but you can still read their lips.


I wonder if the parents would have a problem with their children reading Tolkan's series? Very violent. At least the ARE reading. I gave my kid comic books to get him to read. That being said, reading the book aloud could be problematic.



Scroll down the page to read some of the comments.

Johnson's War was crap - the more vindictives the better.

Eighth grade? They're 13-14 yrs. old. They'll be eligible to be cannon fodder for the U.S.' Endless War soon enough. Might as well get a feel for it.

"Be the first one on your block to have your boy (or girl) come home in a box."


you know...this war mongering attitude is getting a bit old. As is your constant attitude of doom and gloom. Can you not be happy in this world or era or is it something else? Why is it that you always see the dark side of everything? I really wish that sometime, somehow you see the light at the end of that dark tunnel you have yourself in and join us out here in the daylight. I really like you and would love to see you happy.


Long time lurker, 1st comment. Agree with Contango, the world is not as sanitary as we would like to believe, or want. The last several attempts at our leaders trying to sell us "just" wars have all ended with the truth coming out too late. We must teach our children to question everything or we will soon be sending our grandchildren down the same landmined dirt path or steamy jungle our leaders seem to like to send OUR sons and daughters off to. Our language too is changing, seems like the only way some people can be heard is to shock us with words.


It's true that kids hear all kinds of language and are exposed to situations we would rather they not be exposed to but we don't have to encourage it and teach it.


Sorry, but I have to side with the parents on this one. I realize that kids that age have heard all the words (and probably used more than a few of them), but don't we try to teach them NOT to use those words, that other words will do? I also agree that reality is an important thing for even a school-age child to face, but again, it doesn't need to be graphic!

I'm glad the kids are reading, but there are literally millions of books out there, some of which would provide comparable lessons without vulgarity. And those books weren't chosen because...?


Sam you make valid points. Allow me to respectfully respond:

When content is graphic and (sometimes vulgar, excluding sexual content)students learn more because they pay attention. Students need to experience alternate realities and experiences to develop empathy. What better place to explore such concepts than within the confines of a classroom- where the conversation can remain clinical and academic.
The truth is that parents cannot monitor the language and content of their kids conversations when they are not present whether on facebook, twitter, in the hallway or any social event where teens are present. As far as Facebook and Twitter are concerned parents can and should do more-kids don't learn appropriate digital citizenship in a vacuum- they need guidance from responsible adults. Read my other post for more info.


Respectfully, Sam, this is the perfect time for the parents to get in touch with their kids and set up some really good conversations at home with these kids. Instead of complaining to the board and the teacher, they need to really get in "touch" with their kids and "discuss" this with their kids. What a PERFECT opportunity to start a dialogue with their kids that may take them all the way through their teen years. It is the best way to start and keep a line of communication open with a teen. Sit and listen to what the pre teen or teen has to say, share your point of view with your child. They DO have opinions and if you handle it right and not get all emotionally charged up, you will have the ability to carry that communication all the way through high school.

These people are missing the chance of a life time and I hope they realize it. Some of them may not miss the boat, others will. For the sake of those kids, I hope many of them get it.


Amen, wiredmama. I told my son when he was twelve that he could cuss in front of me, but not in front of any female and especially his mom and gram, (mixed company, more or less) and not in public. I also told my grandson the same thing just this year. I know they cuss. I did. c'mon....

The Big Dog's back

So true wired.


The only dfference between the author and the students is that the language and suggestions used by the author is printed in a book. If one were to "be a fly on the wall" during students conversations, they would hear far worse. Peruse students facebook and twitter postings- many are loaded with foul language and suggestive remarks.

From an academic standpoint, content needs to be powerful and engaging to reach today's students. The fact of the matter is that they have changed. The way they learn doesn't at all match up to what adults are accustomed to in the 20th century classroom. Educators must adapt, or our students will fall even further behind.


Type some of the "words" that a young man was forced to read aloud in class in this comment section and see how long it lasts.
If most of you think its ok for a student to be forced to read that type of language in a class room, how does the SR get away with removing comments with those same words? Seems like a double standard to me..........


@ Kimo:

Simple; it's your tax dollars at work.

It's the difference between public and private.

So you don't believe that Obamacare should force private religious based organizations to pay for contraception?

Can we SAY: "double standard"?

Admit it: You liberals won't stop until there is no more private and you're in every one's business.

My Opinion is...

Kimo - you said "a student to be forced to read". Does that mean that the student voiced an objection to the teacher that they would rather not use that language? If so, that may be an entirely different can of worms. If no objection was given to the teacher, but only stated to the parents later then how would the teacher be "forcing" the student? My kids have done chores I've asked them to do without complaint, and then told their father that I "forced" them to do whatever it was because it suited their mood at the moment.

Gyro Cart Guy

History has always shown that every once in awhile you need a good old fashioned book burning.

Floyd P

Despite the obvious argument about the content of video games and the blasé attitude towards it, not only should these children be allowed to read any book with "severe language" (ahem, First Amendment), the teacher should require a discussion of the subject afterwards. By delving into and asking questions, do children learn to form their own opinions and will be able to discern what drives a person to use severe language. Required reading without discussion and memorized history without questioning does nothing to teach.


Like most "stories" printed in the SR, there is more to this story. Yes, objections were raised. Some students felt that they were being bullied......

The Bizness

One thing I hate about modern society is that you have to be so dang politically correct.

Fat people are fat...and no you aren't beautiful, and you shouldn't be proud of your curves.

Some kids are going to get teased, but ya know what those kids can either respond and grow into great adults, or they can whither away. Survival of the fittest is at work.

We are not meant to all be contained in our own little safety bubble.

It isn't a sterile world so put your clorox bleach wipes away and build up some immunity!


It's called "self esteem."

IMO, the problem with this society is that we have far too much "other-steem."

We allow others to define us and to tell us how to feel.

We are a very co-dependent society and it is what we are taught.

"The most important intellectual ability man has yet developed - the art and science of asking questions - is not taught in school!"

- Neil Postman, Teaching As A Subversive Activity

The Bizness

We agree on this one my friend