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Monett School District addresses controversy after book pulled from high school curriculum

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:07 PM CST
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MONETT, Mo. (KY3) - The Monett School District is addressing controversy over the book, “Dear Martin,” after the district decided to remove it from lesson plans.

“Dear Martin” is a New York Times Bestseller that tackles contemporary American race relations. The novel was written by Nic Stone and published in 2017.

Monett superintendent Mark Drake says the book wasn’t pulled from the curriculum because of the topic. Drake says it was pulled because teachers didn’t go through the proper protocol to get it approved.

”None of those lessons or activities that were planned for that book had been looked at by anybody else. So we just wanted to make sure that they meet the standards that were supposed to be teaching in English language arts,” Drake says.

Drake says any curriculum changes need to have input from teachers and administrators. He says the permission slip for the “Dear Martin” assignments had some concerning language.

“The most concerning point of the permission form was that if their students chose not to read that book, they took it as the student was going to get more work and that it was gonna be potentially harder,” Drake says.

However, for parent Suzy Gonzalez, she’s concerned that the book won’t be taught in school.

“I just think it’s important for this community to know that there are issues, that this does happen,” Gonzalez says. “I’m not saying it’s gonna happen to your kid, but it has happened to my kid and it is very important for the community to know that this can be an issue and it should be addressed to kids in the proper setting.”

Gonzalez says for her son felt a personal connection to this book and was upset when the district pulled it.

“His peers in his class started telling him that racism didn’t exist, that there was nothing such as that to happen and he was just talking about his personal experience what he has dealt with on a personal level,” Gonzalez says. “He had to excuse himself from the class and ask to be excused because he felt like he was being bullied by his peers.”

Moving forward, Gonzalez hopes books are added into the curriculum that address topics like racism and poverty. For Gonzalez, the goal is to make the community more open-minded.

“Let’s talk about how people are treated differently when it comes to class,” Gonzalez says. “I’m not just going to target racism. I’m going to target all of it. To me, it is important for the community to know that this is a problem in their own backyard.”

Drake says the district is now putting together a book review committee. The committee will have teachers, administrators and even some parents to give community feedback.

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