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.

Comments

Rod Farva

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

Trustafarian

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Perkins2060

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

mhdgirl

The students did not have to say the swear words out loud.. And if this is all about bullying you may want to talk to your kid before you point fingers at someone else. The students will learn about history in every English class they have at that school, get over it already. Jesh!!!

Nor'easter

If as parents, you have not listened and then blocked the channel that carries Sponge Bob, you are in for a serious awakening. This so-called cartoon is atricious.

luvblues2

Freakin' Puritans, go find another country. This one does not and will not ever meet your standards.

titch

I'm sorry but you most of you are missing the point. We're not talking about going to see an "R" rated movie, (which does require an adult to be present for kids under age 17). We aren't talking about going to a library or a store to pick up this book. As a parent, you can decide what movies, books, and other media you choose to allow your child to see on your own time. You have the opportunity to use those things as teaching tools. Not every parent allows their child to watch Jersey Shore, or listen to really nasty music. Not every family allows strong language in the home. Apparently it's not ok with some of you for parents to try to raise morally sound individuals.

In this case, the teacher gave this book to his students, and they were reading the book for several weeks without parents being aware of it. The students were not permitted to bring the book home. One student did bring the book home though, and shared it with some adults. The parents then posted a page from the book on a social media site, and others copied it and shared it as well, sparking a firestorm. For those who argue, stating the realities of war shouldn't be "sugar coated, this is NOT a history class, it is a Language Arts class. "War" didn't even need to be the topic. There are millions of books to choose from that do not contain this type of material. The book was assigned without parental consent, and the students were required to read the book aloud in class. The "eff-bomb" (The Register's profanity filter will not let me describe the word any other way) is used throughout the book, along with racial slurs, sex, drugs, and extreme violence. The book has been in the top 10 of the American Library Association's top 100 controversial and banned books list for several years. It has been banned from High Schools. We are not saying 13 year olds should never be allowed to read this book. We are saying that in school, we trust that the material given to our students will be appropriate, and when it is not, we expect to receive a parental consent with less offensive options available. There are students of various maturity levels and backgrounds in the eighth grade. Some were mortified to have to read this material aloud. I tried to share a small portion of the content of this book below, but the Register's profanity filters would not allow it no matter how I tried.

Parents researched the way other schools handle this type of material. Most of the schools in the area don't have books like this on their reading lists. When there is any type of offensive material, most schools have a protocol that must be followed, including approval of the book by the school board, parental consent, and providing alternate material for those uncomfortable with the material provided. That is all parents at Danbury were asking for.

As a result of the meetings at Danbury, some positive changes have come about. The school will be changing the process for screening and assigning books and other media. Parents will be more involved in the selection process, and in other decision making at the school.

This was our goal as parents, and we are happy about the outcome at this point.

ladydye_5

Do you have a problem with Huck Finn? In that book they use the "N" word. Where do PARENTS draw the line on what is appropriate to teach. If that is the case there is sure to be a parent that does NOT approve of something everyday in different class. Kids would learn NOTHING. If you are so worried about your angel of a child and the horrible vile education the public school is teaching, send them to a private school. OR better yet home school. You get to make all the rules then. I really have a hard time believing that an 8th grader was so horrified at this book and traumatized reading it. I do NOT know an 8th grader alive that has not dropped the "eff" bomb. (I know of CATHOLIC SCHOOL kids that use the "eff" bomb).

My Opinion is...

If you have such an issue with the education your child is receiving - homeschooling is always a possibility. Then you can teach your child exactly how you see fit without any outside influences or opinions.

train coming

As small as Danbury is it would not take many students to leave before the would be an major problem. They only suit up 15 kids or less for high school football.When you open inrollment kids go so do there tax dollars.

titch

Home schooling isn't necessary when there are plenty of great schools in the area who have policies in place to prevent situations like this. I'm sure Danbury will be glad to have nice small classes next year when a bunch of kids transfer to different schools.

Pirate Mom

Untrue on many levels. Schools in the area do have this book and others like it on their reading lists. In what universe do History and English classes not cross curricular lines? Maybe you need to look into what is going on in your schools. It is encouraged and required by the state in many English content standards. I agree that the maturity of eighth graders, or lack thereof, makes some books more suited for older students. That is a judgment call for teachers and administrators with parent input. I am sure that you are happy at the outcome. You got Danbury on the front page for...negative reasons? Please work just as hard to showcase your schools in a positive light for the great things they are doing for your kids, in spite of your closed and controlling mind.

luvblues2

Watch this movie: The Village (2004)

And this one: The Wicker Man (2006)

Those might fit your little Paradise very well. Keep 'em locked up and shuttered in from the so evil world. They will escape your dreams.

The Big Dog's back

I think the lily whites have more of a problem with the racial aspect of the book.

kURTje

Uh-oh. This spring when Mr. Leon P. (Secretary of Defense) was at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va, he might of saw what was on the wall. Engraved in marble were the words of Sgt.Major Dan Daily: "Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever?" (He lived to garner the Medal of Honor)

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

TheMomX6, JTutt, and Titch.. thank you for taking a stand against the moral malaise that often times tries to disguise itself as "normal". Thank you for being a hands-on parent with your kids while the vast majority of parents permissively go along with the flow and don't fight back against the cultural rot or who are just too lazy to care. The fact that this teacher TOLD his students NOT to take the book in question home is a BIG red flag. Schools are responsible to the parent, to the taxpayer, not the other way around. It's good to know that some safeguards have now been put in place that will make a rogue teacher think twice before doing this again. JTutt...thank you for your service to our country and for your vigilance in protecting our school children.

titch

Thank you for your kind words. I respect the fact that people have their own opinions, but I honestly think some of these people sit and wait for stories to be published, so they can pounce with their evil comments. You are right, this teacher would not permit students to bring the book home. I believe the explanation had to do with the cost of the book, only so many books being available, etc. Funny though that students were able to bring other books home... I am proud of all the parents and citizens who stood up for what is right. It's hard to go against the grain, especially in a small community. They made themselves heard, and hopefully positive changes will be the result of this.

My Opinion is...

"I am proud of all the parents and citizens who stood up for what is right." Your definition of "right" does not make it a universal acceptance and will most definitely contradict other peoples' definition

Pirate Mom

My question to you is..."Did you ever sit down and talk rationally and reasonably with the teacher in question?" I think I already know the answer.

titch

Yes, the parents did sit down and talk to the teacher.

Red Baron

All the while they are indoctrinating kids with ipads to dumb them down. Here kids here is an app where you can make yourself fat or look you can make it look like the screen cracks.

train coming

I know many Vietnam Vets thay all agree this book is terrible and no kid in Jr High school should have to read it....to read it out loud in class is just crazy..... One Vet said "I fought that war so 13 year old girls would not have to read that GARBAGE in school".

Pirate Mom

That is NOT why Vietnam Vets fought that war.

Common Sense

For those who have read this book, we can tell you that the setting somewhat dictates the rough language. The author is a popular young adult writer and has won awards for his work.
One thing that should be mentioned to the young readers (and their parents) prior to the reading of this story is that this is a story of fiction, that the war setting brings out great frustration and fears, and that the language is not considered acceptable in day-to-day life.

titch

@ MHDGirl - YES, the kids DID have to read the swear words out loud. I know you Marblehead girls love to try to protect your little Marblehead "cult", but get the facts straight. Truthfully, I think this teacher gets his jollies making kids uncomfortable. None of the other teachers at Danbury make a habit of choosing highly controversial books like this teacher has.

mhdgirl

Actually I have the facts straight. They were allowed to just say f. Marblehead is a great place. If something was truly wrong with this I wouldn't say anything, but your making a big deal of nothing. All of you used this book as an excuse to complain about the teacher. Please do your self and everyone at Danbury a favor and transfer your kids to another school, then let us know how bad you had it.

train coming

THEY READ THE Fword OUT LOUD......I like the teacher....Dont like what he did....

train coming

THEY READ THE Fword OUT LOUD......I like the teacher....Dont like what he did....

titch

Many students were too intimidated by this teacher to ask not to read the specific words aloud. That is part of this issue.

titch

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