ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — During its meeting Monday night, the Forest Hills Public School Board of Education discussed how schools pick out reading material that is available to students.
Members of the board talked about what their process is for what books students read in their schools. The superintendent said keeping updated and relevant books is important and spoke about some books not having a tie to the curriculum or stimulating students’ interest.
Usually the acquisition of material or books process includes a 30-day book review from the board.
The superintendent said all books represent a form of knowledge and they aren’t trying to ban knowledge.
“No books have been banned,” Superintendent Daniel Behm said. “Books represent knowledge and kids can have any books. What we want to make sure is that we have processes in place for parents to make those decisions for their own children.”
He mentioned wanting options for parents moving forward, such as students selecting their own books in the media center, or having access to the media center with parental settings. Other ideas discussed were students having access to the media center, but students bring their own books.
Some board members were concerned about graphic or obscene materials and sexual content not complying with Michigan law. One board member mentioned that some classic books, like “Huckleberry Finn,” carry racist messages.
Some parents are upset about what books are not included in schools.
“One year ago, the chief re-caller in the room called for a ban on a book that so much as mentioned LGBTQ characters. They want them nowhere on the premises,” Becky Olson said. As a result, one of the most innocent books under this very roof, called ‘My Footprints,’ was not read to students, so where do we start to draw the line on these policies?”
“I have an army of people that will be willing to help to weed these books out of our schools and classrooms,” Stephanie Bruin said.
What’s next is developing an updated handbook with clearer guidelines on how Forest Hills acquires books. The school will also be reposting a district media specialist position.