Plain City, do better

At+the+board+meeting+on+April+12th%2C+several+parents+spoke+in+opposition+of+diverse+books+in+Jonathan+Alder+schools.+

Agustin Gunawan, Unsplash

At the board meeting on April 12th, several parents spoke in opposition of diverse books in Jonathan Alder schools.

Jackson McCoy, Staff Writer

“We are known as the more conservative district.”

This comment, made by a disgruntled parent at the most recent school board meeting, underscores the comments made by three community members the evening of April 12th.

One parent recommended the school not require masks in the school year of 2021-2022. Two parents were angered by what they see as indoctrination through the education system. One of these two proceeded to ask if Christian books could be offered, as a “majority of parents” would approve of those types of books.

While advocating for only Christian books in a public school feels like a borderline violation of the Establishment clause in the First Amendment, that is not what irks me the most. What irks me is the ignorance and blatant hypocrisy demonstrated in this meeting and in this community overall.

Despite numerous comments advocating for apolitical education from these parents, it is evident that “apolitical” is not the goal here. Despite numerous claims of valuing acceptance and tolerance, “acceptance and tolerance” is not the goal here. 

The goal seems to be for Jonathan Alder to only teach conservative values and to only offer conservative books and to only be welcome for conservative students. The goal, according to these parents, is to indoctrinate students, despite cries against an “agenda” being pushed by a book with two moms instead of a mom and a dad. 

Jonathan Alder parents, and Plain City as a whole, we need to do better. There has to be a place where we draw a line in the sand.

Books that show two moms or two dads or a transgender person or anything in between are not pushing some sort of agenda; they are representing the human race. Anyone who truly cares about tolerance and acceptance knows this. 

In Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors, an article written by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, she writes “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” 

According to the organization We Need Diverse Books, children who are not a part of marginalized groups or around an individual in a marginalized group consistently suffer when they do not read books about people who are. On their website, the organization says, “For white children [with heterosexual parents], they also suffer from not seeing the true nature of the world around them. It can distort the world around them and their connections to other humans. All children can learn from the richness of culture.”

A book with diversity is not indoctrination, it is just a book. Talking about current issues in school is not indoctrination, it is just talking about current issues. Education with diversity is not indoctrination, it is just education.

Indoctrination is defined as the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically. Indoctrination is not letting a child check out a certain book because it is deemed “inappropriate.” Indoctrination is not letting a child form their own opinion about a fictional character. Indoctrination is telling a child what to think about current issues. Indoctrination is resisting education that gives everyone a chance to be seen.

In my 16 years of life, I have seen far too many incidents of divisiveness. At the meeting, one of the parents mentioned this divisiveness. According to this parent, politics are an adult issue not to be discussed, especially in classrooms with younger kids. To that I say: all kids are going to be adults at some point. Why should we not inform kids of what’s going on and let them think for themselves

 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article asserted that “While introducing Christian books in a public school is a clear violation of the Establishment clause in the First Amendment.” We have realized that this is misconstrued and have revised to reflect the original intent.