Parents upset with school district's choice of assigned reading - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Parents upset with school district's choice of assigned reading

Posted: Updated:
Brianna Owczarzak & James Felton

Midland, Michigan -- A controversy is brewing in Midland over a book.

Parents said ninth grade students were assigned to read "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."

The novel follows a teen living on an Indian reservation.

School leaders said the book is part of an effort to promote diversity, but some parents said the content is inappropriate for young students.

"I was mortified. I couldn't believe it. I went to Midland High. I'm a graduate of Midland High. All my family went there as well. We didn't read anything like that," said Jeff DeHaven, parent.

DeHaven has two children in Midland Public Schools. He is appalled the district is using the book as part of the ninth-grade curriculum.

The novel is littered with very strong and potentially offensive language.

"Of a father of two daughters I just don't think they need to be exposed to that language, to be exposed to that sexual content," DeHaven said.

School administrators said they wanted to enhance the English language arts curriculum with authors from diverse backgrounds. They said they vetted the book twice and concluded there were strong lessons included through the novel.

Administrators went on to say students are offered alternative texts if they opt not to read the novel.

"If you did, you have to go down to the library and kind of be excluded from the class. Which is more devastating, I feel for the student. So, I'm glad there's an option out, but I don't know if that's the right approach for this," DeHaven said.

The novel is banned in other school districts across the country.

DeHaven would like to see that happen in Midland as well.

"I still don't understand why it needs to be required by any means," DeHaven said.


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