I imagine in movies where the protagonist triumphs over adversity in front of an audience there is often the stage direction line written in, “Crowd breaks out in thunderous applause.”
That is exactly what happened last night when the School Board voted 3 – 2 (Mooney, Tam, Jensen — for / McMahon, Spencer — against), to adopt the anti-bullying curriculum. I was watching from home and as soon as the vote was made the volume level on my television peaked to the point where I literally had to put it on mute so that I wouldn’t wake my kids.
It was clear when the Board Members began their comments and questions which had already made up their minds about how they were going to vote. Tracy Jensen and Ron Mooney were clear locks for the curriculum simply based on the questions asked. Trish Spencer was the mouthpiece for every kitchen sink opposition question that has been thrown at this curriculum, a clear vote against.
Then there was Niel Tam and Mike McMahon who both kept their opinions pretty close to the vest. When Niel Tam asked about the pilot program, I thought that he was leaning more in the “no” direction. But his last statement before the vote erased that expectation.
Mike McMahon, in a Soloman-like move, attempted to split the proverbial baby, offering to adopt the curriculum if an opt-out option was allowed for the first year the curriculum was implemented in order to gauge how it was working.
So here’s the argument that I had the most difficulty with and I’ve been fixated on it since last night. I don’t know if Trish Spencer necessarily believed this or if she was — as mentioned — throwing the kitchen sink at the anti-bullying curriculum to see which would knock it over successfully. One of her arguments was that one of the books, I believe it was That’s a Family, but not 100% sure about that Who’s in a Family and the way that they presented the families they relied on that often used device of depicting human like behavior in animals.
Trish Spencer noted that it might be considered offensive to bi-racial families that they were mocked up as dogs in the books. Well when you put it that way, yeah, it sounds a little bad, but contextually, what were other families depicted as? Cats? Monkeys? Tigers? Pigs? Seriously though, if she is going to have issues with humans depicted as animals or animals exhibiting human like behavior that would literally wipe out a substantial majority of children’s books. And Disney films. And cartoons. And classic stories.
Another argument offered by Trish Spencer was the because And Tango Makes Three was on the list of most challenged books that it should be replaced by a different book. I was dumbstruck by this argument and had to, once again, try to figure out if she actualy believed this or if she was kitchen sinking it. While she is absolutely correct that And Tango Makes Three has topped the list of most challenged books in 2006, 2007, and 2008 if we are then to use the criteria that any book that ends up on a most challenged books list must be removed from our children’s sights, then these books must also go:
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (2008 no. 9)
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (2007 no. 5, 2002 no. 7)
- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (2007 no. 6)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (2007 no. 8, 2004 no.9, 2002 no. 4, 2001 no. 4)
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (2006 no. 5)
- Beloved, by Toni Morrison (2006 no. 9)
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger (2005 no. 3, 2001 no. 6)
- In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak (2004 no. 7)
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (2004 no. 10, 2003 no. 3, 2001 no. 2)
- Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling (2003 no. 2, 2002 no.1, 2001 no. 1)
News roundup of morning after reactions:
- The Island: SCHOOL BOARD OKAYS LGBT LESSONS ON 3-2 VOTE
- KTVU: Tolerance School Curriculum Approved in Alameda
- SF Gate: Alameda school board adopts respect-gays class
- CBS 5: Alameda Schools Approve New Lessons About Gays
- ABC 7: Alameda allows LGBT Lesson #9 and Fight against LGBT lesson continues in Alameda
- Alameda Journal: Alameda school board adopts plan to halt anti-gay bullying