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.



Thanks. Until I read Melody Beattie's book yrs. ago, I hadn't realized how programmed I was.


Kinda like takin' the red pill in "The Matrix." :)


Postman's quote is right on the mark. Unfortunately, we are stuck in a 20th century teaching model. "Why?" you may ask? Because teachers are more focused on teaching content and not problem solving skills because it's easier for them. Compound that with the fact that our most experience teachers were "taught" how to teach when- in the 20th century. The imposition of the mandatory 30 hours of continuing education requirement was meant to bring many teachers up to date, but it did little more than provide raises to teachers who did little to change practice in the classroom. This leaves the newest and brightest teachers who have been trained to teach from a problem/inquiry based (which can be applied to any subject matter) perspective searching for jobs that they will oftentimes wait years and years to obtain. This is what slows down changes to education.


@ Kimo:

"Bullied"? The poor, poor darlings.

Better learn to "grow a spine," the "real world" tends to be even worse.

Martial arts.

BW1's picture

bullied by other students, or by school officials?


For anyone interested in a more thorough explanation why this book should be read in the classroom, please view the following video:


Excellent vid, Rabbi. Thanx.


Thanks for the site. Good points.

Kottage Kat

Does peer pressure enter into choice of language, how many of the youth of today will stand up for what they know is right.
There are excellent classics that teach life lessons without vulgarity.
Telling me that foul language contributes to the story-----not


The Bible is full of incest, death and destruction. Maybe they would be better off reading that?

Also, better sanitize the movies and TV of drugs, language and murder.

You're right however, I could have done without seeing Dennis Franz's tush on "NYPD Blue" yrs. ago.


Re: "Does peer pressure enter into choice of language, how many of the youth of today will stand up for what they know is right."

If and when the entire story is printed, you may find out that one young man did take that position......


Golf clap.

BW1's picture

Dish - tell us what you know, Kimo. We could grow old waiting for the Register to tell us.

Kottage Kat

Thank you for the information.



Do these children watch Reality tv? What about watching Teen MOM. Have they been to an "R" rated movie? Heck have you heard these children talk to each other! Have ya seen their twitter or facebooks. Nevermind the video games they may or may not play. Sorry folks the world is not all roses and rainbows.


Welcome to 2013 where kids know about drugs and sex in the fourth grade. Kids in a public school system are far from sheltered nowadays, get with the times.

Kottage Kat

My generation gap is showing, we did not have all the outside influences.
Parents gave all the reality I needed. Right and wrong and freedom to make choices, then learn from my mistakes.
No electronic babysitting, welearned to entertain ourselves.
Remember: hermits have no peer pressure


The book does have graphic content and language, but it isn't gratuitous. However, eighth grade is a little young for that book. Tenth grade would be a better year to read it.


Who cares??? Theres always a bunch of whiner/sissies that need something to complain about. The days of turning the other cheek are gone. We demand answers and consequences. Phuck off, theres your answer.


I remember when the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" was banned reading for most students because of its content. There was a terrible upheavel in most schools that anyone even "suggesting" that it be read at the junior or senior high school level was in terrible trouble. By the time most of us got to college it was reguired reading in our lit classes. I couldn't see what the fuss was all about. In fact, I found it to be informative and very sad.

When the movie came out, it was a blockbuster, too.

This will probably be a movie that most of these kids will flock to see it as well. Imagining that these kids do not already know these words or haven't heard them from TV, the movies they see or even in their own homes is just plain nonsense.

Education is just that...a preparation for their future and about life. It should teach you to think...outside the box. Perhaps these parents should sit down with these kids and do some "damage control" at home if they feel so strongly about all of this. Why not TALK to your kids and find out how they feel before you stop the education at the school? See what your kids have to say about the book and how they feel about it?

For once, start a conversation with your children. You may be surprised what they have to say to you in return. Your pre-teens and teens have keen minds these days and they work. The lines of communications need to be open. That is what stops trouble later on with your kids. So stop fussing at the school board and at that teacher and start talking to your kids. Not with criticism, but with an open mind.

LISTEN to what they have to say and share your opinion, but only after they have given theres. You may be pleasently surprised that the child you raised has pretty good values...you put them there didn't you?


I just want to say that the parents that are complaining may want to take a look at their child's Facebook page, or listen to some of the music they listen to, or turn the tv on.. If reading the f word is the worst thing your child is going to do then I think you should be proud. I can't believe what a big deal this had become, it's ridiculous.. Are these parents saying they have never slipped up and said a swear word in front of their child?? I think not! What is the big deal? I'm not really a big fan of the teacher but I will stand behind him on this one, its just a book and its been read at Danbury for years, and hopefully will be for years to come. If the Danbury parents are upset about this wait until they get into high school and have to watch the holocaust movies in English class, it's a lot more graphic. I think if you really have that much time you might as well find something good to complain about, if not keep it to yourself. You all have the option of open enrollment, go find out how bad you have it at Danbury please!

Gyro Cart Guy

Let's just not force Johnny Tremaine on these innocents. I'm still scarred from when [SPOILER ALERT] Rab dies.


Since those kids are being taught to read from those books and that those words are a "part of life", I wonder what will happen when one of those same kids uses one of those words in class. Maybe in a sentence as part of their answer to a question. Bet they will get in trouble for it, and then wonder why, if the teacher taught them those same words from reading a book.


This book was being read out loud in class in its entirety. The book uses graphic language such as cursing, slang, and other suggestive words. If the words in this book were to be used by any student in school and a teacher overheard they would definitely be punished. Yet, for some reason, they are allowed and encouraged to use those words in the classroom setting.

The students were told NOT to bring this book home, and were told that a permission slip was not needed to read this book aloud in class. A student specifically asked the teacher if there should be a permission slip sent home and signed due to the questionable content. To which the student was told NO and that he ran out of time before they started reading the book. This student had also been told that if any parent does not let their child read this book in class then a lot of extra work will be placed on that student.

No permission slips were sent home for parental consent on this rated R book, and no alternative reading was assigned until 2 weeks after the book was started. At this point the students were already half way through the book. This book has been banned in many schools and public libraries across the country, and is still highly controversial. We as parents need to stand against this filth in our schools. The children have enough struggles these days and don't need to be further influenced by this book.

Danbury Schools as a whole claims that they are constantly trying to "Raise The Bar" in educating our children. It is teachers like this one that take this statement from believable to just a nice thing to say to get more students and pacify parents. Since this book was brought home by one of the students, there has been multiple children standing up and speaking out against the way they are treated at Danbury Middle School. There are a number of teachers, not just one, that seem to be ineffective and/or downright bullying our children on a day to day basis.

I along with other concerned parents will not tolerate this type of behavior from the adults at this school. We are committed to making sure our kids are safe and secure both physically and mentally at Danbury Schools. We will do whatever we can to legally, morally, and ethically insure this is accomplished.


As a result of the meetings last night and the media being involved some positive changes are beginning at Danbury Schools. I along with other parents are pleased to see this coming about. We had no intentions of making this a witch hunt on the teacher but rather a chance to show our children to stand for what you believe in. Too often people are afraid to stand up or say anything because they worry about comments being made by there peers. Most of the comments on this section are made by uninformed people. Reality is most of you need to get informed and make educated comments instead. I teach my children about the real world. I have also been to Iraq and would go again. I can teach my children first hand about war because I was there. This class is a Language Arts class not a History Class. If you want the kids to learn about war take them to a Veteran and let them talk and ask questions. This was also about Teacher Conduct in the class room and not just the book almost all the comments on here refer to the book. The book being read with no permission slip got this train rolling but new information came out everyday that kept this train on the tracks. There are many issues in our schools today that we as a group are addressing and will continue to address. Our work is not done and we will continue to Parent our children the way we see fit.


I am sure that you WILL continue to parent your children the way that you see fit. More power to you in that respect.

But I think that it is most unfortunate that you feel "most of the comments in this section are made by uninformed people". Many of those who comment on here are parents as well as you and have made statements who also have "parented as they see fit" or have taught, and/or raised children who have turned out to be very nice, intelligent and wonderful assests in today's society.

No one has all the answers when raising a child, including those making the comments nor all of you who have the kids attending the classes at Danbury schools.

While I applaud your willingness to stand up and be counted for your beliefs, I hope that you will also accept the offerage of expressions as they were given by most of those on here.

I don't think they were meant to hurt or defame any of you parents in Danbury, but to suggest alternatives and additions to your thinking.

I, for one, wish you well in your endeavors with your children and the schools. May they grow up to be wonderful and productive people for the future of our society.

Having taught for ten years, I can only hope that when they get to the college level, their minds are ready to fly. It appears they will.

God Bless. Kate

Rod Farva

Maybe they register should give a little more background about the book. I read this in hs, very good book about the Vietnam war.


Is there a cliff notes on this somewhere? Who has time to read these days.


What's wrong with youtubing lesbian kissing movies? I just finished doing that :-P

Rod Farva

Thats hot


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