PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following a Tuesday night committee meeting in Dayton, Superintendent Amy Fast announced that all five challenged books in their school’s curriculum would remain in schools.
In a letter addressed to the community, Dr. Fast shared her decision to uphold the committee’s decision to keep the books and spoke on the need for less black-and-white thinking.
“Sometimes, there are varying levels of ‘right’ or ‘good,’ and we come together as communities when we acknowledge this and assume best intent in each other despite our differing opinions,” wrote Dr. Fast. “As educators, we want parents to care about what their children are learning. We want them to take issue with the use of profanity, violence, and sexual misconduct. We want them to be involved in their child’s education. These are good things.”
Dr. Fast continued, sharing that she believes it’s important to let students think critically and deal with discomfort that might come from the books.
“It is also true that our student’s abilities to understand the world around them and think critically about issues that make us uncomfortable are sorely underestimated. And, if we are to task them with creating a society better than the one they will inherit from us, we need to empower them to grapple with these issues by engaging with multiple perspectives in a safe and structured environment facilitated by educators who have the expertise to do so.”
The five books: The Things They Carried, The Glass Castle, Sold, The Hate U Give and All-American Boys, were brought before the committee due to parent concerns about the graphic language used in the books. The books weren’t going to be removed from the school libraries, but specifically from being taught in classrooms.
At the end of the meeting, the vote by the committee was held secretly, voting on each book individually and all of them were chosen to remain in classrooms. After the vote, the superintendent has the final say on the matter though.
Dr. Fast shared pride in the community for this process, saying that while conversations like this can be hard and have the power to divide, she thinks that it can actually help to bring the community together and rebuild.
“I am so proud of our staff, students, parents, school board, and community members for leaning into this process and together addressing issues head-on through thoughtful, productive discourse that have the potential to divide us. The fact that we don’t all agree on the best approach forward does not have to cost us our unity. These hard conversations can actually serve to rebuild it.”
The letter concluded with Dr. Fast sharing that a number of students had shown up to the night’s event advocating for the education they wanted to receive.
“I got a text last night that fourteen students showed up at the meeting to advocate for their education. That is the sign of empowered learners folks, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that regardless of the committee’s decision, we are on the right track.”