Archive for the ‘His Master’s Voice’ Category

220 Books

Just last week in Barrington, the school board voted to keep “Flame” and “This Book Is Gay,” two books about gender and sexuality. In a 4-3 vote, the board ultimately accepted a recommendation by a school advisory committee of experts to keep the books after determining they didn’t meet the standard for obscenity and pornography.

A glass shelf displaying some of the most notable challenged books in the country adorns the entryway of the Chicago Public Library’s Lincoln Belmont branch. The books are surrounded by yellow tape and red signs that inevitably steer the attention of those who walk inside to the titles that have been banned, or attempted to be banned, in other libraries across the country.

But instead of taking the books off the shelves, visitors at the library were invited — in celebration of Banned Book Week 2022 — to learn about each one of them and encourage discussions about the topics for which they were banned. City Lit Theater Company joined the efforts by presenting a theatrical display of iconic banned and challenged books, allowing people to make their own decision on whether to read them.

Last week, city and Chicago Public Library officials declared Chicago a sanctuary city for those stories, by establishing “Book Sanctuaries” across the city’s 77 distinct community areas and 81 library branches. That entails a commitment to expand local access to banned or challenged books through library programming.

Meanwhile, attempts to ban books across the country — including in suburban Illinois — are escalating at a rate never seen since the American Library Association began tracking data more than 20 years ago, according its most recent report.

Just last week in Barrington, the school board voted to keep “Flame” and “This Book Is Gay,” two books about gender and sexuality.

In a 4-3 vote, the board ultimately accepted a recommendation by a school advisory committee of experts to keep the books after determining they didn’t meet the standard for obscenity and pornography.

Erin Chan Ding, a board member, said the removal of the books could potentially impact young people that could identify as LGBTQ students. And though the books may have strong imagery and words, it should be up to parents if their children read them.

In August, Barrington school board members also voted to keep “Gender Queer” in the Barrington High School library.

“We’re making these books available, but we’re not actively incorporating the books that were challenged into the curriculum,” said Chan Ding, a mother to an eight and a fourth grader.

As a mother, she said, she understands that some parents question the books and want to prevent access to them. “I have empathy for parents who disagree with our decision and I acknowledge and fully recognize that there’s a full spectrum of opinions. … It is a parent’s responsibility and role to do what is best for their own child but that doesn’t mean restricting access to other people.”

Read more here.

Related: District 220 posts April 2023 Election Candidate’s Guide,District 220 Board of Education meets tonight

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220 Books

The 220 Board of Education will consider upholding the recommendation of these two books tonight.

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street. Topics for discussion in their agenda include:

  • Consideration to Approve the Adoption of the 2022-23 Budget
  • Consideration to Uphold the Recommendation of the District Level Review of Materials – Flamer
  • Consideration to Uphold the Recommendation of the District Level Review of Materials – This Book Is Gay

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the district YouTube channel.

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Martin McLaughlin’s public comments to the District 220 Board of Education Tuesday night were followed by applause from attendees.

Speaking as a parent of five children, Martin McLaughlin voiced the following Tuesday evening during public comment at the District 220 Board of Education meeting:

“My name is Martin McLaughlin

I am here tonight as a parent. I live in Barrington Hills. I have had four children go through District 220 school system I have a current sophomore in high school. My family has a 50 year history with this school district.

We have chosen to live here because the District has been a leader in academic excellence for many years.

In the past four to six years, I have been astonished at the level of outside influence that has been allowed to infiltrate our local school district and have impact on policies and curricula, all with the blessing and tacit approval of the majority of this and prior school boards.  And the results have not been good. 

Letters and requests by local blogs and special interest groups arrive every day to each of you, pushing their narrow agendas.  And believe me I get it.  I’ve been in your position, serving as an unpaid elected official for 8 years. I can’t tell you how many special interest groups I have had to say no to.

Allowing Non-Profits out of New York and DC lobbyists and unelected social justice and cultural change agents have an impact on our children’s education and development is what we expect you to protect against, not to embrace.

As a community member, I’d like to see the old 3Rs come back— Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Today unfortunately, our children are being taught a New 3Rs – Radicalization, Revisionist history and Racial divides and IT NEEDS TO STOP.

As far as the academic performance at District 220 in mathematics and reading, the failure rate has increased over 20% since 2019 —a direct result of the policies that kept our children remote and kept them out of the classrooms.

The use of our public education system or Misuse to forward and mandate moral and sociological standards is just wrong. How about we get proficient in math, reading and writing first?

There are places for these discussions to occur, but it’s not in chemistry, math or during PE. And it certainly shouldn’t be presented to minor children, particularly those in the lower grade levels.

We all agree it is not appropriate in public schools to discuss or push religious beliefs upon others, so why should it not be as equally inappropriate to discuss political leanings and further, to discuss age-inappropriate related materials to minor children?

Finally, as it relates to public safety and the public good, in my day public school safety meant putting mulch under the monkey bars in the playground, adding padded seats on the bus and making sure that bullying and physical harm did not occur to any students. 

Never in our wildest imaginations did we believe under the guise of public safety that our parental rights and obligations would be taken away by elected or appointed officials when it comes to the best decisions on children’s behalf regarding personal health decisions, cultural or social guidance, morality, traditional curricula or age-inappropriate content.

As a parent I ask that we please begin to focus once again on what’s most important for our community. Traditional academic-based performance standards which is why we all moved here in the first place and is why we all pay incredibly high taxes to support.

Thank you for your dedicated service.”

The video of McLaughlin’s comments can be found here. You decide which Board members listened.

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220 BOE Photo copy

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • Consideration to Approve TRS SSP Employer Participation Agreement
  • Consideration to Approve the Intergovernmental Agreement for Shared Instructional Services with Township High School District 214
  • Consideration to Approve 2022-23 Board Priorities

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here. The meeting will be live streamed on the district YouTube channel.

Related:Controversial ‘Gender Queer’ will remain on the shelf at Barrington High, school board decides

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Gender Queer

A copy of “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel about a nonbinary teen, sits on a table during the Barrington District 220 school board meeting on Aug. 16, 2022, in Barrington. (H. Rick Bamman / Pioneer Press)

As the mother of five children, Barrington resident Marsha McClary approved of her hometown school district teaching students about the birds and the bees with what she described as a traditional, biology-based sex education program.

So when McClary heard Illinois lawmakers had passed legislation mandating that school districts teaching comprehensive sex education follow new standards created by a New York City-based nonprofit, McClary decided to do her homework.

“I read through the whole thing and in general, I thought, a lot of these things in the standards are wonderful, but then I got to page 21, and for me, that’s where the rubber meets the road,” said McClary, whose children are enrolled in Barrington School District 220.

In particular, McClary was troubled that the standards required that by the end of fifth grade, Illinois students should be able to “describe the role hormones play in the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional changes during adolescence and the potential role of hormone blockers on young people who identify as transgender.”

McClary was also alarmed to see a requirement that by the end of fifth grade students should be able to “distinguish between sex assigned at birth and gender identity and explain how they may or may not differ,” as well as “define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, gender expansive, and gender identity” and understand that “gender expression and gender identity exist along a spectrum.”

“For an 11-year-old person, I’m just not OK with that,” McClary said.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act into law in August 2021, making Illinois the first state in the U.S. to formally pass legislation codifying new national sex education standards developed by SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change.

According to the SIECUS website, the nonprofit advances sex education as a means to create a “long-term culture shift that will positively impact all levels of society, particularly issues of gender and racial equity, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, consent, personal safety, and autonomy.”

Read more here.

Related: “Controversial ‘Gender Queer’ will remain on the shelf at Barrington High, school board decides

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AR-220819373The controversial graphic memoir “Gender Queer” will remain on the shelf at the Barrington High School library, the Barrington Community Unit School District 220 school board has decided.

The board’s vote late Tuesday came after school- and district-level reviews of author Maia Kobabe’s account of exploring gender identity and sexuality. The district-level committee recommended keeping the book in the library, Superintendent Robert Hunt said

The Barrington district is at least the third suburban school system board to keep “Gender Queer” available in high school libraries despite strong opposition from some parents. Antioch Community High School District 117 officials opted to retain the book in April, and the Downers Grove High School District 99 board did the same in June.

District 220 board member Erin Chan Ding, who voted to keep the book, said the district must serve each one of its more than 8,000 students.

“And that includes making sure that our students can access stories that could reflect their experience, their friends’ experiences, and could help them build empathy in ways that are appropriate,” she said.

Joining her in voting to retain the book were board President Sandra Bradford, Vice President Leah Collister-Lazzari and Secretary Barry Altshuler. Board members Katie Karam and Steve Wang cast no votes (Thus continuing the 220 Board partisan voting track history since the 2021 election).

Read more here.

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Concerned parents packed the room at the July 12, 2022 meeting of the Barrington School District Board of Education, with some calling for removal of the book “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe from the district. Others said removing the book would amount to censorship. (Barrington School District / HANDOUT)

Dozens of concerned parents crowded the July 12 Barrington School District 220 board meeting demanding the removal of the book “Gender Queer” from the school print and digital library, calling it “porn” and inappropriate.

“We need to filter obscene or pornographic media,” Jenna Shields told the board, and suggested a new protocol for book review.

The Tuesday night school board meeting was the second one where some parents shared their outrage over this book and others, along with the district’s book review process.

“Gender Queer” is author Maia Kobabe’s “intensely cathartic autobiography” graphic novel which “charts [the author’s] journey of self-identity,” according to book distributor Simon & Schuster.

Some board members at the meeting requested a discussion on the way the district curates books while others suggested waiting until this book is formally reviewed at the district level.

Shields told the board a petition had been signed by 1,300 community members asking the district to opt out of Senate Bill 818 which offers new sex education curriculum. Hunt had announced during the meeting that the district chose not to follow those suggestions. The petition, she said, also asked the district to reconsider what is promoted to students.

“We ask for an independent task force that includes parent participation be developed and a ratings system.”

Almost all of the audience stood in support.

Read more here.

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By Steve Huntley

July 20, 2022

The covid-19 pandemic left a lot of wreckage in its wake. High on the casualty list is a growing loss of confidence among middle class parents in public schools.

When schools shut down, moms and dads got a peek at zoom classes. They watched with disbelief, then anger as they got a closeup look at how too many public schools promoted an unsettling agenda of political and cultural indoctrination to pupils.

Radical racial ideas distorting American history and sowing division. Nonsense about kids born guilty of oppression because of the color of their skin. Theories about the “fluidity” of gender identity trafficked under the banner of sex education. All that taking priority over math and language instruction.

And that was just the beginning.

When the covid emergency receded, school unions and the school boards in their pockets resisted reopening in-person learning in classrooms. Chicago parents saw the city’s teachers union go on strike for five days to try to keep from returning to the classroom.

Union defiance to in-person learning came even as evidence mounted that computer screen classes knee-capped learning in pupils. Reading and math scores fell across the board, but especially plummeted for low-income kids.

Then there was nonsense like the far-left San Francisco school board that, rather than open classrooms, worried about schools being named for famous heroes of history like Abraham Lincoln.

Steve Huntley’s commentary continues here.

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220 Update

In his Superintendent’s Report at the July 12th Barrington 220 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Hunt shared that district leaders are recommending the district does not adopt policy related to SB 818, also known as the “Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act”. The Board’s Policy Committee will review this recommendation at its next meeting and the committee’s decision will then be brought to the Board of Education for approval.

You can listen to the discussion about SB 818 beginning at 7:46 in the Board meeting video and again beginning at 2:41:39.

At the same meeting, the Board discussed the 5th grade Human Growth & Development unit, which has been taught for more than 25 years to Barrington 220 fifth graders. The unit is a mandated unit of study in Illinois School Code and was reviewed in 2013 and 2017 as part of the district’s curriculum review cycle. Click here to listen to the presentation and discussion.

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Controversy continues to swirl in Barrington Community Unit District 220 over the book “Gender Queer,” as parents who object to its presence in the Barrington High School library and those who support it spoke out again Tuesday before the board of education.

Meanwhile, district officials say they are proceeding with a formal review of the memoir to determine whether it belongs on the library shelves.

Delivering an update at Tuesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Robert Hunt said the district is following its procedures for evaluating the book, which is not part of the district’s curriculum, isn’t used in any instructional material and isn’t available in middle school libraries.

Board member Katie Karam said the big issue involves a discussion on how the district curates books for school libraries and what should be considered sexually explicit material.

The meeting Tuesday was highly charged, with prolonged and often emotional public comment from those who view the book as pornographic, those advocating for the freedom to read and those who support LGBTQ+ students. Many carried signs with slogans such as “Our children need to be taught how to think not what to think.”

Jenna Shields, a parent in the district, said a petition being circulated expressing the need to “filter obscene and pornographic content across all media and resources” already has received more than 1,300 signatures.

“That content has been promoted by the teachers and is available to our students,” she said. “The idea of parents having to filter for this or routinely opt out is unacceptable. While many policies exist to address obscene or pornographic content, the school library policy still needs to be updated.”

Read more here.

Related:Petition started to ‘Filter Adult Obscene/Porn Content & SB818 Opt Out,’ in D220 Schools

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