Protect your kids in Guilford County Schools

During recent years, parents have been concerned about safety issues in the Guilford County Schools system– and with good reason.  The school board and administration simply are not committed to maintaining a safe educational environment.

But another issue has apparently surfaced. 

Some parents choose affirmatively to send their kids to public schools.  And some really have no choice.  But all parents should be able to feel confident that the school system is not undermining their kids’ morals.

I am told that the system’s IB program has required reading that includes a book called “A Handmaid’s Tale.”  This book has numerous sexual references and graphic passages.  It repeatedly depicts promiscuity and multiple partner sexuality.  It contains cultural messages regarding sexuality and relationships that are potentially harmful to adolescents during their formative years.

The book also glorifies drug use and dwells on suicide.  There is considerable profanity found throughout the book– which also contains unfavorable depictions of Christianity.

(I am also advised of a couple of other inappropriate titles that are on the GCS required reading lists.)

It is certainly possible for GCS administrators and teachers to assume that IB students are intellectually mature; and should therefore be able to handle mature content.  However, we cannot make the assumption that these teens are mature from the standpoint of relationships, their developing sexuality, and overall worldview.

The Guilford County Schools system has been ruled by liberals since its inception.  Democratic gerrymandering gave the school board precisely the same district lines the Board of County Commissioners has had.  This means that the school board has been dominated by individuals who harbor a liberal Democratic perspective.

Cultural relativism, secular liberalism, and sexual liberationism will therefore animate the philosophy that key players bring to the system.

Consider, for instance, the fact that the school board chairman– a practicing attorney– recently helped represent former Senator John Edwards with his legal troubles.  It is somehow a bit unseemly that the person guiding the ship at the school system was involved representing such a sordid case.  But that is what we have in Guilford County.

If parents want a change, they will need to demand it.  And they will need to get the school board redistricted so that a better reflection of Guilford County residents is represented on the board.

One thing voters can do this particular election season is to throw school board member Sandra Alexander out of office, and instead to elect Pat Tillman to the school board’s at-large seat.

In the meantime, parents who are able to do so should seek alternatives to the public school system in Guilford County.

Dr. Joe Guarino is a Guardian columnist.

19 Responses to Protect your kids in Guilford County Schools

  1. Lex says:

    Joe, I realize that you don’t think Presbyterian are really Christians (and you really need to get over yourself on that), but this attack on Alan Duncan is beyond the pale. I’ve known Alan for a long time, through church, his school board work and his work as an attorney representing the News & Record when I worked there. His faith may or may not measure up to your standards — I neither know nor care — but his public and private behavior, including his treatment of people with whom he comes into contact, have been, to the best of my knowledge, impeccable. That is much more than I can say for you, as illustrated by hit pieces like this..

  2. Jacqui Hawkins says:

    I’m so proud of our school system here. I’ve lived in New York, Florida and now here; Guilford County Schools are some of the best schools that I’ve encountered. School board members are supposed to be non-partisan and while I’ve seen some “candidates” that appear to be pushing an agenda, our school board, as a whole, has been quite successful in maintaining that non-partisan stance. As for Mr. Duncan, the attorney in question, he does a wonderful job advocating for our children. He’s a lawyer, his job is to represent people to see that they are treated fairly, according to the law. That doesn’t start and stop with a particular political party. Besides, I’d hardly call the Edwards trial “sordid”. Despite what your opinions are of John Edwards, how does that determine the character of his attorney?

    As for the curriculum of the IB program, my child participates in the program at the high school level. The curriculum is quite rigorous and promotes “intercultural understanding and respect”. Its designed to “encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” If your child qualifies for this program, I highly recommend allowing them to participate. Nevermind the bonus of what an IB education could provide a child, but the participation in Honors and AP classes, (Pre-IB), prepares them for college level learning and also provides college credits. I have not read the book that is described in this article, but I do usually read the books that my child has been charged to read, so I’ll start on this one sooner than later. The description of this book that is provided, is not one that scares me, however, because we don’t sugar coat reality in our home. When things happen in the world, we discuss them in depth and provide our child with the framework of what we expect from him. I’m sure when he is tasked with reading this book, we will have plenty of topics of discussion and I welcome those discussions.

    While I don’t doubt that Pat Tillman will do what he considers to be appropriate for our children in GCS, I continue to support Sandra Alexander. Mrs. Alexander has proven herself to be a trustworthy, dedicated and honorable member of not just her community, but our school community, as well. Until she proves to me otherwise, I will continue to support her.

  3. Bob Grenier says:

    Uh oh, now you’ve done it, Joe. You’ve offended LEX ALEXANDER no less!

    I’ll bet that bothered you some 2-3 nanoseconds, didn’t it?

  4. Bob Grenier says:

    “Until she proves to me otherwise, I will continue to support her.”

    Mrs. Alexander has proven herself to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. That’s all the reason we need to support Pat Tillman.

  5. Joe Guarino says:

    Lex and Jacqui–

    I appreciate your comments.

    I am not going to mince words. The book the school system has required AP English students to read is pornographic. I will leave it up to observers to decide whether it is appropriate for a local school system to require that minors read pornographic literature.

    How does the school system justify it? In its own words:

    “Literary texts studied in the high school classroom are complex, higher-level texts which may contain mature content and themes. ‘Mature content’ may include, but is not limited to pervasive strong language, disturbing violence and behavior, sexual acts, drug/alcohol use or references, controversial content, or culturally diverse themes. These books are selected based on their literary merit and will be studied through their historical and cultural context. Our instructional purpose is to expose students to perspectives unlike or in opposition to their own in order to analyze complex themes and to promote individual reflection and academic growth.”

    Of course, this reeks of rationalization. It is mumbo-jumbo that attempts to justify exposing minors to objectionable materials. Why not expose kids to high-quality literature that embodies true excellence in writing, beauty, and enduring value? Why does it have to be porn?

    Here is another problem. “Corrupting the morals of a minor” or “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”, in many jurisdictions, is a criminal act. It is a downright shame that the school board and school administration skate dangerously close to this threshold. Why is it necessary to require materials that undermine the moral upbringing that parents are trying to provide their kids?

    Mr. Duncan did not have to accept Mr. Edwards’ case. My belief is that it undermines the moral leadership he is supposed to provide the school system. There are numerous qualified attorneys throughout the state of North Carolina upon whom Mr. Edwards could have relied. And if Edwards’ situation was not sordid… then what is?

    Lex, I understand that your personal beliefs are in favor of legal abortion on demand, and that you favor gay marriage. This post is not about how authentic Mr. Duncan’s Christianity might be.

    But when you gerrymander school board district lines to favor liberal Democrats, this is the kind of outcome you will get. The school board blithely tolerates it when school administrators require that students read porn.

  6. Joe Guarino says:

    I would also expand upon my last statement. The school board establishes an environment in which education administrators feel emboldened to assign these types of materials.

    The school board is responsible. Sandra Alexander and Alan Duncan are responsible for this.

  7. Michelle Northcutt says:

    Dear Joe Guarino, I am am a high school student participating in the IB program and have just read the Handmaid’s Tale and understand where you are coming from. But although we have to read it we must also understand it as well and that means being able to interpret it, analyze it, and make an accurate thesis of what we believe is the authors messege. As graphic as the novel may be you must look at what the class is teaching you ABOUT it, which in this case would be how to read a book and analyze it at the college level. Do you really think a college professor really cares about what the story of one piece of literature? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a substantial college level work and should not be hidden from students who are preparing for further education.By attempting to get this book banned you are basically turning this generation into wimps and preventing us from growing up by sheiding the horrors of reality. As for your comment “But all parents should be able to feel confident that the school system is not undermining their kids’ morals.” The students have a choice of what book they read and don’t HAVE to read it if they don’t choose to.

  8. Joe Guarino says:

    Michelle, there are a couple of problems with your position.

    First, students won’t necessarily know what is in the book until they read it. That they have a choice between two books is not really helpful from this standpoint. To know what is in the book they might have to read it– and that is a problem.

    Second, you and your classmates are MINORS unless you have turned eighteen. While it is possible to rationalize the benefits of reading such a book, the school system simply cannot justify exposing minors to pornographic content. This is not a manner of “banning books”. This is a matter of making appropriate choices regarding required reading for minors.

    Third, the school system simply does not have the right to impose this type of content on kids whose families are striving to raise them differently.

    Fourth, there are many other books without pornographic content that would actually prepare you better for the rigors of college study. There are lots of great books out there from which to choose. I have seen the Handmaid’s Tale, and it is trash. Don’t be deceived that this is great literature.

  9. Jacqui Hawkins says:

    With all due respect, it is apparent that your judgments are based on some preconceived notions that all opinions that differ from yours are wrong. I’ve spoken as a parent of a child in the IB program and now you’ve heard from a student. Rather than try to understand that perhaps some “minors” are capable of a higher level of critical thinking and may be able to grasp that literature isn’t always about a story or acts in a book, but rather interpreting a message that the author is trying to make.

    I think with opinions such as yours, published publicly…..the kids DO know what is in THIS book NOW and you’ve likely just attracted a larger audience. Heck, I’ll be reading the book this weekend. My husband and I did some research on the book after reading this article and while some of the things in the book are not things that I would want a younger, immature student to read. I think that my son could handle it with proper guidance from both his father and I. Though, if he had an OPTION, this book probably wouldn’t be his first choice. We spoke with him over dinner about this post and the book and the general message he conveyed to US was, ….”if this book is about women that are oppressed, how could I truly understand that message, if I wasn’t provided all the realities and cruelties that would/could occur with that oppression.”

    Because my child is a MINOR, I still do hold all the cards as to what he could or should be exposed to. If a parent has significant issue with the assignment, the parent should voice their concern directly to the teacher and request the option of a more “appropriate” title. I highly doubt that anyone in GCS would deny the parent that option.

    While some, or most, parents might not agree with me for allowing my child to read such “trash”, I believe that it provides the opportunity for ME to teach my child about said “trash”, as opposed to him learning from his peers. I don’t believe that my position is “wrong” because I’m raising a very lovely, respectful, hard working, independent thinker that does very well in school, on the football field and volunteering regularly in our community.

    Blanket opinions such as yours shouldn’t be tolerated by any well informed parent.

  10. Joe Guarino says:

    Jacqui, you have the right to allow your children to read trash without the blessing of the county school system. But once the county school system designates trash as required reading, it infringes on the parental rights of those who disagree with you. Some parents would never find out about the situation. Some kids would read the book not knowing what is in it.

    It is not all about your choice as a parent. You have your own prerogatives about how you will raise your kids regardless of what the school system does. It is about what the school system imposes on families that disagree with exposing minors to pornographic content.

  11. Michelle northcutt says:

    my point that it isnt required reading is very helpful to my position seeing as you keep mentioning that it is and i’m trying to inform you otherwise to correct you ignorance. I don’t think you understand that its not required reading nobody is forcing these “minors” to read anything. If they read the book and dont like it then they can read the other. I’m srry you can’t find something more productive to do with your time other than try to “fix problems”. You are blowing everything way out of proportion and you are the one who needs to be dealt with

  12. sal leone says:

    I have mixed feelings on the issue and agree with Joe and a few others on here. The fact is that public schools are funded by the tax payer and they should have a say in what is read or allowed to be read. I think the best option is to let the parent decide.

  13. Bob Grenier says:

    .” I don’t think you understand that its not required reading nobody is forcing these “minors” to read anything.”

    Michelle, making this book available to minors in a public school system is inappropriate. It’s just not that complicated an issue to understand.

  14. eagle275 says:

    And that is why my kids are home schooled, thank you very much, and it IS my right because I defended my country for it.

  15. Lex says:

    Joe, you may find the book pornographic, but your opinion is just that. Certainly it comes nowhere close to the Supreme Court’s definition of obscenity. Moreover, although it is not appropriate for all high school students, it certainly is appropriate for the more mature among them, and that’s whom you’d find in the IB program. Your “emboldened” is my “free.” That’s not just an abstraction: I have a daughter at Grimsley (albeit not in the IB program), and not only would I not mind her reading “The Handmaid’s Tale,” I think it would help her put into perspective a lot of what she and I have been been reading and hearing in the news, and discussing, about Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, the Romney/Ryan position on abortion, and related issues.

    One mark of a free country is that it does not let the most rigid pecksniffs dictate how everyone else gets to live, particularly when those pecksniffs have demonstrated an abiding inability to distinguish between “glorify” and “mention in any way, shape or form.”.

    And, again, Alan Duncan may have “emboldened” teachers to offer students a curriculum that deals with the world as it is rather than as the Greensboro Guardian wishes it to be, but he also has been very open to discussion and criticism. In no way, to my knowledge, does he deserve to have his character impugned, and the discussion in this thread certainly hasn’t given me a grain of reason to think otherwise. The implication of your original statement was that neither Duncan nor anyone else who does criminal defense work, particularly when the offense in question involves sex, however consensual, is morally fit to lead the school board. You owe Duncan an apology, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

  16. Bob Grenier says:

    ” You owe Duncan an apology, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.”


    You’ve owed Karl Rove an apology for years, yet none is forthcoming.

  17. Lex says:

    Do I, Bob? Well, by all means, please link to whatever it is I said that you think I owe an apology for, and I’ll consider it. Seriously.

  18. Pingback: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” our kids, monsters, and writing in blood « Blog on the Run: Reloaded

  19. Joe Guarino says:

    Lex, I would encourage you to consult a standard dictionary definition of pornography. The book in question fits the bill.

    The book also caricatures Christianity in a negative way. Somehow, I doubt the school system would assign a book that stigmatizes, say, Islam in a similar manner.

    The permissiveness that you and Alan Duncan espouse should not be imposed on parents who want to raise their kids differently. Mr. Duncan continues to be a huge disappointment.

    Parents should not need to feel they must read every book the school system assigns to assure it is suitable for the minors in their charge.

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