On Friday, I was out of school for a baseball coaching conference, and, apparently, a parent who happens to be a pastor came in irate about my class. His son was reading Drift, a novel by Manuel Luis Martinez, for my class. The book is often classified as a YA novel, and it's one of my favorites I've read in the last few years - a moving account of a 16-year old kid on a journey for redemption. I haven't re-read it this year, but I remember it has some tough language in it, and some drug use - he smokes weed and gets drunk, if I remember, but it's sort of his low point before he gets himself together. But the book is mostly about this kid's love for his grandmother, and his search for his mother, and how hard work pays off, and a lot of great things that I want my students to learn. I think it's a pretty important book, one that I can see a lot of my more at-risk kids relating with (bonus for it having a Latino-American protagonist, a group that is under-represented in our curriculum and in most high school English curriculums)
It was on a list of twelve novels I gave the students for their independent reading book, all featuring characters on a journey - so students can relate it to The Odyssey. The independent reading book is due on Dec. 20. I've only kept light tabs on how the kids are doing; this is meant to be a fun, high-interest text and activity to get them to a richer understanding of the archetypal journey story.
Anyhow, Friday morning I get a call from my Assistant Principal, about the pastor who has come in with guns blazing for me about this book. He's very angry, and talking about contacting the press (he knows a prominent education journalist and mentioned the name a number of times). From what I understand, the father had a problem with the language, not the content. The AP sounded relieved when I told her this was not a required text, but a text the student chose from a list I had created, and I think things will be okay. Maybe the father didn't know that, either. It'll be interesting what happens tomorrow, though. I hope no one is still upset.
Otherwise, not much new. One class is over. One class still needs to finish. I can almost smell my Master's degree. I hope no one can smell the BS I'm throwing in the big paper I'm finishing up for Wednesday, though.
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