Oklahoma schools in both rural and suburban districts provide students with sexually explicit material and infringe parental rights in other ways, according to parents who spoke publicly at recent school board meetings.
The response from school officials has been mixed.
“If we had more responsibility, didn’t have that kind of material available, didn’t focus on controversial topics, or force our children to ‘examine their lives’ – which is a quote from a program. of BPS (Bristow Public Schools) – our children would perform better, âsaid Kaycee Batschelett. “How many other kids have to sit in a poor classroom listening to material that has nothing to do with their education or curriculum?” How many parents will find out, too late, that their child has been exposed by school to material that should have been discussed at home and / or with a counselor? “
Batschelett made the comments at this month’s Bristow School Board meeting, alongside other parents who complained that the school is giving students access to books of questionable academic and moral value without inform parents.
The board meeting drew a crowd of worried parents and had to be moved to a larger location.
Jessica Bishop said Bristow’s parents have raised concerns about school library materials “on several occasions since 2015.” Nonetheless, she said current school policy still provides, without parental consent, unrestricted access for students to material, including those containing “graphic violence, graphic sex, graphic rape, suicide. graphics, slicing, drug use and unlimited profanity “.
Bishop said some books now available to students include descriptions of “knife” rape, descriptions of child rape, incest, and sex with minors. She suggested that this violates Oklahoma law, which states that any instruction or presentation regarding sexuality in classes other than sex education is not allowed without parental consent, while the law of the State and school policy require parental consent for sex education.
Batschelett read an excerpt from a book available from Bristow which stated that a boy “wanted to fuck her, tenderly”, but that “the tightness of her vagina was more than he could handle” and “pull out of it. it was so painful he had to cut it short, âthe book then indicating that the girlâ seemed to have passed out â.
She said there are “many” books identified by parents that include not only graphic representations of sex and violence, but also “anti-police opinions and step-by-step suicide ideas.”
âBPS policy states that the responsibility for the selection of library and classroom materials rests with the school board. The superintendent must develop regulations governing these materials, âBatschelett said. âIt falls on you. It is under your control, and you have authorized it. We want age and topic appropriate material with proven educational value.
Bishop said research shows exposure to such materials is associated with negative or dangerous behaviors in children, including earlier sexual debut, assault, and more.
âWith the challenges this demographic faces within our school systems, why would this administration not only allow, but provide this type of graphic content to our students? Bishop asked.
She said students deserve “reading material appropriate for their age and subject, period.”
Similar complaints were raised this month Meet of the Edmond School Board by Cheryl Williams, whose grandchildren attend Edmond. Williams read aloud excerpts from “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, including a series of profanity, a reference to masturbation and the statement that “Sexual assault is a crime of perception: if you don’t think so. not that you are hurt, then you are not. So many women make such a big deal with things like this. She said the book also included gang rape, bullying, domestic violence and glorification of theft.
âThis is required reading for grade 11 and 10 students at Edmond Memorial High School, and was given to my granddaughter to read,â Williams said. âWhen I called and complained, I was told, ‘Oh yeah. Parents complain about it every year. So why is he still on the playlist? “
Batschelett said the issues highlighted by parents “affect the overall education of our students.”
âThis type of reading material is not conducive to high expectations for our students and community standards,â Batschelett said. âOur high school currently has a D grade with only 33% success in English, 24% in math and 17% in science – before the pandemic. What is the plan to increase these scores? “
The results state tests administered in the spring of 2021 showed that 74% of pupils in Bristow were below grade level in all subjects tested in all years.
School culture is also a cause for concern
Parents also raised concerns about the overall school culture and how some schools impose or allow the introduction of worldviews contrary to those of local families, with parents saying some acts have occurred without public transparency.
Bishop noted that the District of Bristow added the Genders & Sexualities Alliance to the list of student clubs and organizations posted on its website in October, but that it only did so “after we did. have brought to your attention â. The school website States that the mission of the Genders & Sexualities Alliance is to âbring together and recognize LGBT and heterosexual youth in a positive, non-judgmental environment where they can fully express their individuality and shared experiencesâ. The group’s sponsor is Christian Davis, a high school linguistic arts teacher.
Bishop asked that the board change the school’s policy regarding student participation in clubs.
âIn order for parents to know about clubs in a timely manner, we ask that parental consent be required before a student is allowed to participate in any club, organization, sport or extracurricular activity,â Bishop said. âThe community believes this is an additional layer of protection for our students and parents, and is accountable to the academic advisor and administration. Additionally, we believe this policy will help eliminate behavioral and PDA (public display of affection) issues that occur in some clubs and classrooms. “
At Edmond’s school board meeting, parent Emily Wright noted that Edmond’s superintendent Angela Grunewald would be a fan of the book “Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity” by Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple, and read aloud a quote from that book that described the company. as designed for “individuals possessing whiteness, masculinity and other identities, such as heterosexual Christians, who function as an unstated norm”. Several of these phrases are associated with Critical Race Theory, a theory derived from Marxism which views all issues through a racial lens and assigns people the status of “privileged” or “oppressed” depending on the color of the race. skin and other traits, regardless of individual circumstances.
Responses from schools vary
School officials have responded in different ways to concerns raised by parents in Oklahoma.
Bristow Superintendent Curtis Shelton said the district will be reviewing the books highlighted by parents, and local lawmakers have also weighed in.
“A transparent investigation is absolutely necessary to determine the extent of the problem so that the problem can be dealt with properly,” said Senator James Leewright, R-Bristow.
âThe community is right to be concerned and state law clearly states that nature content shared at the meeting should not be made available to children unless it is provided to the advance to school administration and made available to parents for inspection, âsaid Rep. Kyle. Hilbert, R-Bristow. âI appreciate the media superintendent’s comments on tackling this issue now and hope that the issues will be resolved quickly for the benefit of our students, educators and parents. “
Edmond officials have taken a more defensive stance.
In a writing reply Posted online following this month’s school board meeting, Edmond Superintendent Angela Grunewald wrote: âThese negative and sometimes bogus comments from a few make administrators and teachers fail. not feel supported by a community known for its educational support. “
Regarding compulsory reading of “The Glass Castle,” Grunewald said students “can learn from the lives of others” and that the book has been required reading at Edmond for eight years. While conceding that the book contains “difficult and sensitive passages,” Grunewald said that “teachers do not mention them in class and do not read them aloud in class or as part of class discussion”, even. whether students are required to read them.
Grunewald said she read “Belonging through a Culture of Dignity” and “thinks there are many takeaways from this book that are important to educators, such as treating every student and teacher with dignity.” .
During Edmond’s school board meeting, Williams lambasted school board members and administrators for what she described as a steadfast refusal to listen to parents in the district.
âWe cried. We pleaded. We screamed. We begged. We pleaded. We’ve done everything we can to bring your attention to the horrible things that are going on in our schools, âsaid Williams. âYou are not listening. You do nothing. And you don’t even hear our concerns or even act the way you do.
Williams called on school board members to resign.
âIt’s time for you to come home and stop letting this neighborhood be mediocre,â Williams said.
This year’s state tests showed 59 percent of Edmond’s students were below grade level in all subjects and grades tested.
Williams’ speech was applauded and applauded by parents in attendance.
Jason Bishop, who also spoke at the Bristow school board meeting, said parents should be given the opportunity to determine when and how to address sensitive issues with their own children without having to worry that those responsible for the school send conflicting messages or impose emotional turmoil on children by introducing problems at an inappropriate age.
âWe ask our children to carry loads that are far too heavy for them,â said Jason Bishop. âThey should not be forced, as children, to see and feel the world through the prism of adults. Innocence deserves to be protected and is worth fighting for. We must do our part as parents and community to carry certain things for them until they are old enough to bear the load. We need to make sure they get an education, not indoctrination. “