Curriculum Regarding Racial Issues and Books Once Again Center-Stage at Pocahontas BOE
During the March 9th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, the issues first brought up at the February 16th board meeting about the use of two books to teach about systemic racism in Mrs. Mann’s ELA class at PCHS, were brought up again. During the delegations, or public input, portion of the meeting several citizens including a couple of parents, spoke up once again. Some supported Mrs. Mann’s use of the books –The Hate You Give and This Book is Anti-Racist – while others opposed her curriculum and particularly the use of those books.
Here, in the order they spoke, are the people who commented about this issue. Since it is impossible to fully summarize each of these comments in the time we have on the radio, we have included audio links below each name to listen to each of their complete and unedited comments in the transcription of this story
Joe Riley, PCHS Principal
Superintendent Beam read a statement about this issue, in which he says he supports a curriculum that includes discussing racism and diversity, but understands how some parents may object to the use of these books. He also has established a new policy where in the future, parents will have the opportunity to see the books teachers will use in the classroom and if they object, their child will be provided with alternate books. There will also be an audio link to full text of Mr. Beam’s statement in this story on our website. It can also be found in this week’s Pocahontas Times.
Board President Doctor Sue Hollandsworth also made some pointed comments about this controversy. Here are just a few portions of her comments.
“I was disappointed that all of this got blown so far out of proportion” said Hollandsworth. “It was basically the issue of the language in two books, or one book specifically. And the idea that all whites are bad, all whites are racists. I think that’s what I’ve been hearing. Joe (Riley,) I have to give you a lot of the responsibility for this happening at all. You have three English Teachers, all of whom I think are quality, two of which said ‘Woo!’ One said ‘I want to go with it.’ OK, but you needed to read the books. Then you needed to realize that these books might be a bit controversial. And if you had realized that from the beginning and done what you are now planning to do, (Mr. Beam’s new policy) I think this never would have been an issue, because Mrs. Mann could have continued her discussions on racism, which is a necessary issue, but there’s other books that could be used just as effectively…”
Dr. Hollandsworth’s full comment can be heard below.
Board Member Jarrett McLaughlin.
Board Member Sam Gibson.
Board Member Morgan McComb
It is important to note that most of the board members and Superintendent Beam are understandably not happy with and are in fact quite upset with some of the incorrect comments being passed around in social media that Pocahontas County Schools are banning books or that this is a racist community.
Part two of this story will cover other actions taken during this board meeting.