In May of 2022, a revised policy was implemented which requires new library materials purchased to be approved by the Burke County Public Schools Media Coordinator.
This is great news; however, I believe there are some important issues that must be resolved that pertain to parental rights.
The new policy states:
3210 (C): “While input from the community is appreciated, professional educators are in the best position to determine whether a particular supplementary material is appropriate for the age and maturity of the students.”
Removing the parents from being able to determine the standards of their own children's materials undermines their parental authority. If parents are concerned about material being graphic or inappropriate, they must rely on the “professional educators” having that same belief and values.
This also is stated in the policy for instructional materials for the classroom:
3210 (B): “While input from the community may be sought, the board believes professional educators are in the best position to determine whether a particular instructional material is appropriate for the age and maturity of the students and for the subject matter being taught.”
The policy makes an effort to claim that they are inline with the student’s First Amendment rights yet strips away the rights of the parents. Taxpayers should absolutely have the right to protest and question the funding of materials that they do not support.
Another issue concerning parental rights is that if a parent learns about a book in a BCPS library that they find inappropriate, the parent can only challenge it if the book is in the school that their child is currently enrolled. This is why I am unable to challenge the books that I have listed as problematic.
3210(C): “A Request for Reconsideration of Library Books Form for Parents may be submitted to the principal regarding the availability of supplementary materials at their child/children’s school…"
Also according to policy, if other copies of the same book is at multiple schools, the parent cannot challenge those as well.
3210(C): "...The decision of the school advisory committee will apply only to the school in which the challenge originated."
While new material must be approved, parents will have to rely on the Media Coordinator’s discernment on what is or is not appropriate. Once the material makes it into the library, the odds of it being removed is very unlikely. A guideline for what types of materials that are not appropriate should be entered into policy which should include excessively graphic language and or depictions of sexual activity.
The new media policy does not address pornographic or sexual explicit materials. With the amount of content that is coming into schools from bulk book orders, it is extremely important that policy is implemented to deal with this issue.