Parents have discovered that Leander ISD has placed harmful literature into the hands of our children. Examples below. For a second documented time, district leaders and internal curriculum directors have not executed appropriate checks and balances. Unfortunately, detrimental books have been delivered to minors without parental notification or consent. This demonstrates the need for tighter selection control and transparency before such curriculum is purchased with public funds.
Public education in Leander ISD should be consumable by the students in our community while creating little to no controversy. Quality literature should elevate our children’s minds, provide positive character models for students to replicate, challenge their reading and language skills, and build their love for reading. Many books in Leander ISD’s current literature have usurped parental rights and are substandard in both content quality and academic rigor. Some of it is outright harmful to minors by creating social and emotional problems in students where problems did not exist before. These books contain detrimental themes such as minors abusing substances, racially stereotyped characters, self-harm, abusive relationships, gang rape, R-rated language, and mature sexual content.
LISD curriculum directors have used the National Council of Teachers of English as one reason for pushing reprehensible literature to our children (1). The NCTE believes that any text should be permissible to any grade. They vilify parents who object and they respond as if they are the ultimate authority (2). Notice how parents are rarely mentioned in the NCTE article that LISD attached to their guiding document, which was given to a committee book review regarding the current offensive titles. We counted TWICE that parents are mentioned! Students are labeled as “individuals'' who have the right to read anything they want. Parental authority is disregarded. Notice how many times teachers are used as the authority and even victimized in the article. We counted THIRTY-EIGHT. We ask for LISD to not use NCTE as a reason for overthrowing parental authority.
Educators placing books into the hands of LISD children that depict visually graphic BDSM (bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, sadism & masochism) scenes, the use of various sexual toys, the act of gang rape, and more, crosses both legal and ethical boundaries. The American Psychological Association has studied the effects of the sexualization of children and adolescents through media, literature, and culture. The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls states, "Ample evidence testing these theories indicates that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and attitudes and beliefs” (3).
The following are just a few examples from books currently provided to LISD students and bought with public funds. Unfortunately, there are too many examples to list here.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, 12th grade English LISD, “A week after you get back from Savannah, you are fucking on your bed and you come and she says, ‘I love you.’ You are both sweaty; the silicone strap on is still in your body. When dating men, you always loved feeling a c**k soften inside of you afterward; now you pant on her chest and slide off and it springs back to where it was, slick and erect but spent just the same.” “After this, you ask her to talk to you in a low, raspy stream while she f**ks you, and she does; switching effortlessly between English and French, muttering about her c**k and how it’s filling you up, pushing her hand over your face and grabbing the architecture of your jaw to turn it this way and that. She shaves her c*nt smooth, and it glows like the inside of a conch shell. She loves wearing a harness; you suck her off that way and she comes likes it’s real, bucking and lifting off the mattress.” p 55
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez. 9th Grade LlSD, 660 Lexile-3rd Grade reading level. “For the boys, pussy or the idea of pu**y or the idea of the idea of pu**y. ‘A Mexican is a Mexican is a Mexican,’ she said, plenty loud for the rest of us to hear. The girls among us followed Miranda’s lead and began to tally flaws. Clothes from five years ago, a braid long out of style. Patch on the back hem of her dress. And also: how come her name is Smith when Smith isn’t Mexican? Look at her, making eyes at Fred Carter, not wasting any time. The boys among us had no trouble getting past the plain clothes and laying down plans. Take her out back, we boys figured, then: hand on the titties; put it in her coin box; put it in her cornhole; grab a hold of that braid; rub that calico.” p39
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf is a graphic novel that features comic book style reading. It unveils Dahmer’s journey to become a serial killer and his desire to have sex with male corpses.
While this subject matter is harming our children, so is the romanticizing of drugs and alcohol, which is seen regularly in the themes of LISD’s book lists. The glorification of alcohol and drugs aimed at teenagers is directly correlated to the percentage of teenagers who hold a positive attitude towards drugs and alcohol (4). This contradicts with LISD’s efforts in ADAPT: Alcohol Drug and Awareness Team. How is the ADAPT of LISD utilized when selecting the District’s Language Arts curriculum that glorifies minor’s use of drugs and alcohol?
LISD’s own ADAPT (5) states that its Objectives are:
A. to maintain a school environment free of drug use and its effects;
B. to educate students as to the serious physical, mental , and emotional harm caused by the use of illegal drugs:
C. to prevent injury, illness, and harm as a result of the use of illegal drugs;
D. to provide a deterrent to the use of illegal drugs by students;
E. to give students a valid reason to resist peer pressure to use illegal drugs;
F. to identify students who have substance abuse problems and offer assistance;
G. to send a message to students that the District cares about their health, safety and character
From LISD’s website (6):
Nine out of ten people who are addicted began to smoke, drink and/or use other drugs before the age of 18 and the earlier teens use any substance, the greater the risk of addiction. (CASA: The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)
Not only is LISD lowering moral expectations for our children by normalizing harmful and offensive behaviors such as drug use, foul language, and sexual promiscuity, LISD is lowering academic excellence with subpar Lexile levels. Many of these inappropriate books lay FAR below the expected reading level for the grade assigned. High school students are being assigned reading materials that have Lexile levels at middle to lower elementary. Students should be provided with appropriately challenging material.
Research indicates that students learn more by reading texts that are considered challenging for them when they are guided by a teacher. One of the best ways to ensure student success at college and beyond is from their ability to read complex texts (7). We ask that Leander ISD provides academically rigorous materials by providing linguistically rich, time honored, culturally diverse, and challenging texts that provide positive messaging without the garbage.
From LISD’s guiding documents (8): The LISD Vision is "engage, inspire, achieve for life-long success." The LISD Goals are:
1) Maximize academic growth for each student.
2) Prepare each student for college and career success.
3) Inspire the whole child.
4) Engage each student in relevant learning.
5) Ensure a world class workforce focused on student achievement.
6) Manage district resources effectively.
7) Communicate effectively with our community to build relationships.
We respectfully and strongly suggest the following:
A) Parental Notification and a Respect for Parental Rights. Parents should be notified 30 days before profane language, sexual content, substance abuse, self-mutilation, violence, psychiatric disorders, racial stereotyping, suicide, or mature themes of any kind are included in assigned curriculum and book lists. Parents should be given the chance to opt-in vs opt-out. Notification includes both electronic (email) and written (letter). The district must shift from its current opt-out process to an opt-in approach, by which it is an underlying assumption that parents would NOT want their minor children exposed to such content. Parents who desire for their child to be exposed to other controversial material may opt their child in. Many parents oppose such harmful themes, and this change of approach removes the opt-out burden from the parent. It is also a demonstration of good will to restore the parent-district trust that has been egregiously violated by adopting NCTE’s standard. The district must remember that it exists to SERVE THE COMMUNITY and we want the filth to stop.
B) Curriculum Transparency and Accessibility. Leander ISD must share grade level book lists and curriculum materials, where parents can easily and accurately review content through a rubric. Creation of a curriculum content document that is clearly defined for both internal and external curriculum review should be mandatory to ensure materials are meeting Leander ISD's high quality content standards along with needed transparency. This removes the subjectivity of what is appropriate and creates defined boundaries for what should and should not be in our children's curriculum regardless of independent groups such as NCTE. This also ensures curriculum is applicable to the grade level taught and not lowering academic expectations by assigning subpar Lexile texts.
C) Transparency in District Committee Selection. The community should know how parental/citizen candidates are selected, along with election or appointment of the chair, and who is ultimately responsible for approving or declining requests to serve on committees. Standards to serve should be made public and easily accessible on the district website. Once created, committees should be representative of ALL groups within the community to equally represent our community makeup. District ADAPT leads should be involved in curriculum selection and finalization. In order to provide complete objectivity, curriculum leaders who developed the original problematic book list should not be overseeing any additional review process and making final decisions.
D) Trauma-Informed Training for LISD Employees. We ask for Leander ISD to provide trauma-informed training to all teachers, admin, and curriculum directors. This policy should be included in the curriculum content document and a prominent consideration when teachers and curriculum directors select classroom materials. Students with a history of trauma are specifically inhibited from learning when such sensitive subjects are introduced. We ask for LISD to consider the Texas Education Code 38.036 which states, “Each school district shall adopt and implement a policy requiring the integration of trauma-informed practices in each school environment. A district must include the policy in the district improvement plan.” According to a survey conducted by the National Survey of Children’s Health, approximately half of all children in the United States have experienced one or more serious types of childhood traumas (8). Being cognizant of underlying traumas and various backgrounds is imperative when selecting public education curriculuum.
Submitted: Mar 28, 2021