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Teacher put on leave after book complaint (Cormac McCarthy's Child of God)

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deadparrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 12:23 AM
Original message
Teacher put on leave after book complaint (Cormac McCarthy's Child of God)
Source: Associated Press

TUSCOLA -- A popular English teacher has been placed on paid leave -- and faces possible criminal charges -- after a student's parents complained to police that a ninth-grade class reading list contained a book about a murderer who has sex with his victims' bodies.

Kaleb Tierce, 25, is being investigated for allegedly distributing harmful material to a minor after the student selected Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy's Child of God off the list and read it.

Tierce, a third-year teacher and assistant football coach at Jim Ned High School, has not been arrested, but his case has caused an uproar in this West Texas town of 700 people. Last week, more than 120 parents and students crowded into a meeting where the school board voted to keep Tierce on paid leave.

Most parents say Tierce should be reinstated, regardless of whether the book is too graphic for teens.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/story/277018.html
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PittPoliSci Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 12:27 AM
Response to Original message
1. most parents support the teacher?
that's actually shocking and reassuring.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 12:36 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I think in this case, even parents who normally
don't support teachers much, or who are fairly conservative, see just how far gone and over the top the reaction is. ESPECIALLY the possible criminal charges; they see just how ridiculous that is.

My parents are retired English teachers, in their sixties. My stepdad has Alzheimer's now, but my mom has said more than once lately how glad she is that she's no longer teaching. My stepdad, especially, being a teacher in a small town, had to deal with small-minded, ignorant parents and community members all the damned time.
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qnr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:52 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. I hate to be cynical, but I wonder how many of these Texans are supporting him because
Edited on Tue Oct-23-07 01:53 AM by qnr
he's a football coach. It seems almost like a second religion to a lot of people I've met here.

Edit: I don't hate to be cynical in general - but in this instance, where I'm glad they're actually supporting the teacher, it somehow seems wrong.
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 04:56 AM
Response to Reply #6
10. You got it. If he were not a coach, the parents wouldn't care.

We could be wrong, but I doubt it. Parents, through "Booster Clubs," buy cars for winning coaches, who are compensated for their coaching and often have light teaching loads as well.
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 08:55 AM
Response to Reply #6
13. As the daughter and sister of Texas high school football coaches...
Edited on Tue Oct-23-07 09:00 AM by patsified
I can tell you that you've hit the nail squarely and firmly on its head. Football, particularly high school football, IS a second religion to a disturbingly large sector of Texans. If coach is having a good season, or seems on the verge of a good season, you don't let anything touch him. If coach is having a bad season, he's fired. What's going on in his classroom has little effect in either case. Great coach/bad teacher stays. Bad coach/great teacher... sorry, but you've lost too many games.

PS I'm the only one in my family who dislikes sports, am definitely the black sheep!

On edit: this teacher seems too young to have acquired much of a track record either on the field or in the classroom, so I'd be interested to know what his apparent "mitigating circumstances" are in the eyes of these parents. If they're supporting him for the right reasons, I'd be pleasantly speechless.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 11:25 AM
Response to Reply #6
17. That's an excellent point. Unfortunately,
I think you're right and you have reason to be cynical. Seems to me sometimes that parents think of schools as just a sports incubator and not an educational institution.
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DrDan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 09:05 AM
Response to Reply #1
15. they are supporting a football coach . .
would you expect less in Texas?
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #15
27. a coach who almost certainly has not read the book in question
the book was included on a list that was provided to teachers, my strong hunch is coach has never even cracked the book open, much less had any awareness of the subject matter -- he simply provided the students a list and this student managed to ferret out this "interesting" choice

sounds like cormac mccarthy has always been a little note of sunshine when it comes to his literary expression but that's another topic for another day
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DrDan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 04:42 PM
Response to Reply #27
31. I would tend to agree, considering some experience with football coaches in my past
I have serious doubts as to whether he has read the book also. But, glad he has received some support from the parents, anyway.

Dan
ex-Asst Football Coach
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trixie Donating Member (696 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
3. Here is where parental involvement is necessary
It is shocking to me how many parents just completely ignore their childs education. Why weren't they in on the selection?

With that being said, I don't censor my kids.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:13 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. It can be difficult to be "in on" everything
I had a similar experience.

"Flowers for Algernon" was on a fourth-grade reading list of the American Library Association, although it contains a graphic description of ejaculation. It's a great book, but not for eight-year-old girls -- in fact, is was banned in Canada at the ninth grade reading level at one time. When I read it with my daughter she was confused and (I felt) not ready at all for what was portrayed.

After I complained to the ALA it was removed. But it is very difficult, especially when books appear on reading lists like this one did, to know what kids are getting into.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #4
16. So, you felt you had the right to decide for
OTHER parents what books their children should read at what age, just because YOU didn't want YOUR children reading a certain book at a certain age? I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. You should have the right to decide for yourself and your own children what they will read when. You do NOT have the right to make that decision for all other parents as well, period. You decide for your kids, and I'll decide for mine, thank you very much.

My parents pretty much let me read whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, provided we discussed certain things and went over certain things in certain books. And I think I turned out pretty well!
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. No. I felt I had the right to critcize a book selection on a reading list
(everyone can still decide for themselves). And funny, the ALA pulled the book not because I was one parent complaining but because (they said) they agreed with me.

You believe any book is age-appropriate for any child?
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:31 PM
Original message
I believe I, as the parent, have the right to decide
for my own child, and I don't appreciate other parents making that decision FOR me and my child. If I don't want my son reading a certain book at a certain age, then I have the right to make that decision. I do NOT have the right to make that decision for OTHER parents. And I don't have to explain myself to other parents as well.

Maybe it's because I've grown up with two English teachers for parents, but this is a real issue for me. I grew up watching them being constantly put in the crosshairs of ignorant, narrow-minded parents, watching them constantly having to explain themselves over every little book selection. And what really drove them crazy, and what drives me batty now, is even ONE parent complaining and the school board would fall all over themselves in a panic. ONE parent does NOT have the right to make that determination for ALL of us. I'll decide for myself what is best for my child, thank you very much.

And the truth is, there are really very few books that children can't handle, IF you read it with them and IF you discuss it with them every step of the way.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
21. Please. No one is making any decisions for you.
Find another book list. The ALA book list is for the majority of parents who feel there is some content which may not be appropriate for younger readers.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Dupe post
Edited on Tue Oct-23-07 01:34 PM by liberalhistorian
nt
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bluestateguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:20 AM
Response to Original message
5. One parent complains and a whole policy has to be changed
Lovely.
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sasquatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 02:33 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. You'd be surprised how many administrators piss down their legs at one complaint
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heliarc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 02:46 AM
Response to Original message
8. Obviously, there are problems with...
expecting everyone's standards to be your own, but there are some really really dark novels that I think should be mandatory reading at the High School level, maybe not 9th grade, but at 11th and 12th grade, I think that Students should be reading, books like Light in August, and Last Exit to Brooklyn/Requiem for a Dream. There're so many hard terrible lessons about sexuality and addiction that young people need to be learning from literature NOT from their everyday lives. The sad part is that books with Dark themes help young readers to work out the moral problems with extreme decisions and witness the consequences. It was a very important part of my education having great English teachers who gave me difficult and morally challenging material to read. I'm better for it, and I side with the teacher in this case.

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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #8
24. I love Cormac, but this is different
Murder - Necrophilia - Decomposition of Bodies in exquisite detail. A book such as this needs a VERY skilled teacher to help children contextualize. It is not suitable for 9th graders.
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Bicoastal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:13 AM
Response to Original message
9. Any parent who thinks their children aren't ready for dark subject matter in High School...
...obviously have no memory of what it's like to be a teenager.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 01:33 PM
Response to Reply #9
20. Either that, or they want to keep them
sheltered from the real world. Keeping them cooped up in pretty little boxes is NOT doing them any favors as far as preparation for the real world, that's for sure.
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kimmylavin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 05:56 AM
Response to Original message
11. Why just him?
It says that the book list was compiled by all the AP English teachers.

Sounds like he's a great teacher - this is such a ridiculous issue.
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litlady Donating Member (360 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 07:20 AM
Response to Original message
12. Censorship...
I teach college English. Though there are many reasons, censorship is but one reason why I would not want to teach high school!

I remember the most disturbed I was by literature in high school and it was the play Equus, complete with masturbation and animal torture. But yes, high school students know violence and they know sex. It is unbelievable that there are (still!) so many banned books throughout the country. Google "banned books" and you will find numerous examples of books banned for various reasons.

Sheltering children, especially high schoolers, is more dangerous than them reading a book. "Harmful material to a minor"? Try video games, music, movies, society as a whole!
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skip fox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
14. The student CHOSE the text. It was not manditory.
n/t
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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 02:24 PM
Response to Original message
22. Yes children, read the bible instead
where you can learn about more socially acceptable perversions. Oy. :eyes:

Julie
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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
23. has anybody read this?
Edited on Tue Oct-23-07 02:54 PM by ironrooster
I have.
I must say that it is incredibly dark. Brilliant writing but exceedingly disturbing. I would NOT have had it on a 9th grade reading list. I would have no problem w/ my smart 9th grade daughter reading DH Lawrence, but I would not let her see Last Tango in Paris even though it's a great film. This - is - different. I would reserve Child of God for HS senior level AP coursework. Cormac is all about the evil of which humans are capable - a worthy topic, but yeeeeeeessssssh!
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. I've read one or two McCarthys
Yeah, I probably would want to read them over again before handing them to a 14-year-old and saying "go for it." What I find interesting is that the controversy is not about a description of the murder, but the murderer having sex with the corpse. Neither episode is particularly nice to read about, but in our society violence almost always gets a pass.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. violence gets a "pass" because a novel is about conflict, thus, death
if you eliminate all novels which deal with death, murder, violence, risk to life and limb, then you might as well close down shop and not offer the novel as a subject of study for children

without conflict (plot) there IS no novel -- and the most involving conflict generally involves some threat to life or survival

for my part, i've read "the road" and that was gruesome enough for me, i would not want that in my mind again and i would not hand it over to a teen-ager who had not sought it out for herself and shown some reason to be interested in reading it (an interest in post apocalyptic literature would be fine, if the kid had read other books on that theme and understood what she was getting into it)

i bet you dollars to donuts the coach has not read the book, he simply provided the kids with a list that was provided to him
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 04:42 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. Well, there's death and there's death
Some of the lingering, loving descriptions of violence and death in literature border on pornographic (as they do in visual depictions in popular movies). But our culture is so inured to it that it's almost laughable when we're shocked (shocked!) to see our kids or our fellow citizens act it out. Our pastor read excerpts from "The Road" during a few sermons over the summer, and I decided it was not a book I cared to read.

Hard to say whether the teacher-coach had read the book; I certainly knew my share of lizard brain coaches during my formative years (oh, so long ago), but there were several thoughtful ones as well, one who understood and appreciated a mental challenge as well as a physical one.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. yeah, "apocalypse porn" is a good description of "the road"
a nasty little story, i wish i'd heard a few outtakes before i read it, to be honest i'm sorry i did read it
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MilesColtrane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-24-07 01:13 AM
Response to Reply #32
33. As unrelentingly bleak as it was...
...I found the ending hopeful and uplifting.
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AnneD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:35 PM
Response to Original message
26. I grew up with very liberal reading habits...
Mom thought it was better to cultivate the love of reading rather that restrict the type of literature. I went to classics and best sellers (like Kurt Vonnegut, Art Buckwald, etc. when I was a heavy reader) as did my younger brother. One brother with an LD learned to read comics and has an inordinate amount of common sense. My sister was self absorbed and never reads much except Cosmo.

I tell my 17yo daughter that you can be of the world and not in it, just because you know it doesn't mean you do it, and just because you can doesn't mean you should. That seems to be enough guidance for her. She has introduced me to some wonderful authors and we have some lively discussions at times. It is fun to watch her excitement as she tells me about what she has read and learned.

As someone that works in education-I think some of these parents need to get a grip. The whole point of school is to educate, and the only way you can is with an open mind (which kids poses). The surest way to get them to read something is to forbid it. On second thought-maybe they SHOULD ban the book, and ban Shakespear too. ;)

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MilesColtrane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-23-07 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
28. Congratulations Mr. McCarthy.
You've now in the same airy aether as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Twain, Faulkner, Huxley, Joyce, Orwell, Steinbeck, Salinger, Vonnegut, and Walker.

The Censored Masters Hall of Fame!!
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