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

Pirate Mom

Please tell us the conversation you first had with the teacher.

Katelih-Trailer...

I can only hope that my son is "uncomfortable" saying slang or curse words in front of his teacher or ANY adult when he is a teenager.

DGMutley

Amen! I have no problem with the book but I have a big problem with making the kids read it aloud.

Danburymom

My main concern is censorship. Who decides what books stay and what books go? Mighty is the person who thinks they can dictate that responsibility. I am a teacher and a parent and I do not feel qualified to take on that job. Do I care about my children? Absolutely!! I was allowed to read everything and anything in junior high and high school. Letting my children have the same freedom fosters a love for reading and knowledge. I hear a lot profanity in and out of school and I dare say that reading Fallen Angels is probably not to blame.
The context of the story and the words that are associated to this story is not being considered. This is not a Cinderella story--this is a portrayal of the Vietnam War. Mark Twain was criticized for vulgarity in Huck Finn but he has preserved our history by doing so. I think we do a disservice to our kids by pretending our history is squeaky clean, pure, innocent. Our veterans can be proud to have served our country and know that Walter Dean Myers has captured and protected a moment that some of us would rather forget but others cannot and should not.
As for the English vs. History class, many schools use cross curricular strategies because it is researched based proven effective that students engage and are more successful in the classroom when their subjects can be connected. What are you going to do when the student gets to 11th grade and the curriculum is American literature? The curriculum surrounds our literary beginnings starting with Native American myths and the published works of a Puritan culture—both which are spiritual in nature. Are we to forget about our own heritage because they mention God? And don’t forget the Revolutionary War and Civil War….. much of our literary heritage is represented by these events.
Using Walter Dean Myers’s Fallen Angels in the classroom gives our kids the chance to discuss real issues in the world, develop their critical thinking skills, practice reading comprehension, and hone writing skills—all things required of the language arts teacher.
Lastly, in a situation where someone protests a certain book, they ultimately create a paradox —instead of getting rid of the book, everyone will be reading the book.

My Opinion is...

Well said!

BW1's picture
BW1

Bottom line, regardless of what anyone here thinks of the book, or what exposures are good for kids, neither you, I, nor the school officials are these kids' parents, and those parents have a right to raise their kids according to their values without the government seeking to circumvent them.

The Big Dog's back

Home school them then bw.

BW1's picture
BW1

OK, then stop charging for schooling.

Use of the public schools does not remove one's rights. Forcing students to say words out loud that make them uncomfortable is compelling speech, a First Amendment violation.

The Big Dog's back

So bw, where do my rights stop and yours begin?

BW1's picture
BW1

To what rights of yours are you referring? The right to interfere with other peoples' parenting? The right to force kids to use foul language? The right to force your views of literary excellence on other people? Don't be shy, say what you mean.

The Big Dog's back

My right to have my kids and grandkids know what America is really like.

BW1's picture
BW1

No one is even so much as suggesting denying you that right. You confuse your right with an obligation on the part of others to aid you in exercising it. Furthermore, there's no relationship between that right and compelling other peoples' kids to say things they don't want to say. Someone else could just as easily say that their right to raise their kid in their faith obligates your kid to pray aloud in school. We all know that's been ruled out.

You're welcome to tell your kids whatever you want, and I won't tell them otherwise. However, your right to teach your kids one point of view no more requires the rest of us to fund an institution to assist you than the 2nd Amendment obligates the taxpayers to buy someone a gun.

The Big Dog's back

I haven't seen many teenagers who have to be "forced" to use foul language. They blurt it out pretty good on their own. You of the right wing want to force your minority beliefs on the majority, but that'a OK right?

BW1's picture
BW1

Maybe you haven't; that doesn't mean they don't exist. In this case we have one who has clearly said he/she was so forced. How is his/her discomfort any different from the O'Hare kid's discomfort with being forced to pray?

"You of the right wing want to force your minority beliefs on the majority, but that'a OK right?"

You're pretty quick with the unfounded accusations. When have I ever advocated any such thing?

The Big Dog's back

Now!

BW1's picture
BW1

Apparently you have a reading comprehension problem since I haven't advocated any such thing. Care to try again with something more substantive than a monosyllabic naked assertion?

BW1's picture
BW1

Well, doggy?

titch

Thank you BW1

Pirate Mom

Schools are "in loco parentis" but are secondary to parents. Eighth grade is too young for this book; in addition, no teacher should EVER require kids of any age to read aloud the conversations in this book. Great but provocative book and the cursing is not gratuitous; however, no one should be required to read that language aloud.

titch

I agree Pirate Mom.

DGMutley

Ditto.

train coming

I am really surprised all the people that are for this Book..... its got tons of profanity, sexual content and racial slurs.I am would be surprised if there are more than 20% of children use this language all the time. My kids go to public school.. yea they here it once in awhile. But you folks act like every kid walks down the hall saying profanity all the time. I have a challenge for you.... Go casually ask a police officer to ---- off. I believe you will be arrested. Have your child tell the principal at there school to ---- off....See if after a couple of time your child would be suspened.You know why because it is wrong to talk like that.You send your child in a class room that is supposed to be a safe haven...Not a place to hear the f word read 100 time in a book out loud by a 13 yr old girls.How sick is that..... Where I work I dont here people talk like that either. You would get Wrote up and after a few time later bye bye....

titch

Well said train coming. It is sad but true that many see nothing wrong with this. Fortunately there are also many who oppose this who have not commented here. I think the kids should go down to the principal and let him know it was a "----ing" good book, and see what he says about that.

luvblues2

Language arts class and you can type such as you do and see no problem? I almost welcome your speech even though it is really bad in English and syntax and spellin'. Lighten up.

train coming

English major I am not......BUT I do teach young men and women.You see I get to teach them after they are broken.Broken by teachers that bully them or make them read R rated books in class.Then the school says its OK.In some schools there are kids shooting kids. People then ask the question....Where is God? Some people also want to turn to God then. The problem is goverment took GOD out of the public schools....In my class room we teach that you put God first. The book I teach from is the BIBLE. It teaches you can live in the world, BUT dont be of the world. It teaches there is evil in the world and you should stay away from it.....God gives these men and women 2nd changes in my class room.In my home I raise my childred the same way. My chidren know when they hear cuss words in the halls, that it is wrong.When my children hear cuss words read from a book at school, that it is wrong. Thats what God does to people. The young men and women I teach, are learning what is right and lifes are changing. My children all ready do and we are blessed. Thanks to God....

The Big Dog's back

train, you are confusing how you think things should be as to how they really are.

Kimo

It is just plain wrong to force any teen to say words that are not acceptable in general public conversation............
.

BW1's picture
BW1

Absolutely. Didn't we have some big court cases about kids being forced to say things in school, like pledges and prayers?

DGMutley

Ditto.

danbury dad

did the school send out alist of books the kids were to read? if they did then shame on the parents for not checking them out first. if they didn't then shame on the school for not supplying the parents info they need to make a responsible choice for their children

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