Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 29, 2011

"Catcher" to remain in school libraries

Panel recommends book not be required reading

CROSSVILLE — A motion to remove the novel The Catcher in the Rye from the school system failed to pass the Cumberland County Board of Education after the motion's support was removed.

Jim Blalock, 8th District representative, said, "We have a book that is offensive that may or may not be used in our school system named 'The Catcher in the Rye.' I would like to have that book removed from the Cumberland County School System and it not be used."

Blalock's motion was seconded by Gordon Davis, 5th District representative, who said, "That's the strongest material I've ever read in my lifetime. It's gutter stuff. I was embarrassed for myself to read it."

The item was not part of the published agenda but was added at the beginning of the meeting Thursday.

J.D. Salinger penned the 1951 novel and deals with complex issues of identity, belonging, teenage angst and alienation. While being hailed by many critics as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, it has also been the subject of numerous challenges in the United States and abroad. Challenges include the novels liberal use of profanity, sexual references, blasphemy, undermining of family values and moral codes and the central character being a poor role model.

The book was included on a required reading list for an Advanced Placement English class. Prior to the book being assigned or discussed in class, a committee was formed to review the material. That committee included parents, students and a board member.

Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle noted the committee determined the book would not be required reading and alternate material would be available.

"We did follow board policy," she said and noted students had the choice not to read the book.

"That's board policy and law," VanWinkle said. "It is off the required reading list. It is in the library if someone wants to check it out."

Policy 4.801 states parents may request a student not be required to read a book, use certain materials or participate in an activity. A written request detailing the objections must be submitted to the principal and the principal will determine if the objection has merit and a suitable alternative assignment. No student who is granted such a request is to be penalized academically. The board has the final decision concerning use of controversial materials.

Charles Tollett, 1st District representative, asked the board, " Have any of you had experience being engaged in censoring reading materials?"

Davis said, "All you have to do is look at it. If that's what we're getting to in education, especially in high school ... I could understand in college if a person wants to read it on their own. But if it's required. To me, stuff like this has no business in a high school or elementary school."

Roger Hyder, 4th District representative, agreed with the characterization of the book, but said the board needed to look to its attorney before taking action.

Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative, said, "Maybe we need an NC-17 and PG-13 ratings and scales, but I don't know that it's in the board's position of authority to be making those decisions. And once you open that can of worms on one book, you're talking about the huge plethora of books that are out there, you can make an argument for every book out there down to See Spot Run.

"We're venturing into an area we need to think long and hard about if we want to make that stand."

Davis said, "Why would you not take a stand when the Creator's name is taken in vain 200 and something times?"

Student representative Tyler Janow said, "I feel that removing the book would be infringing on my rights as someone who is able to read."

Janow noted the school system was trying to expand the number of dual credit and advanced placement courses offered to students.

"If this is required reading for those classes, are we saying we won't have those classes?" he asked.

BOE Attorney Earl Patton said nothing of this nature had come up during his tenure with the school system, so he had limited experience with the subject, but he recommended the board take no action at that meeting.

Patton said, "If you are going to choose to do something of this nature, my advice would be do it very deliberately and to make sure you understand any implication that may come at you if you decide to vote on this tonight, especially with it being added to the agenda tonight."

Tollett said that, while the book does include strong language, it was not likely students were unfamiliar with the language used.

"Cumberland County is a great place to live, but if you want to put us on the map, in a big way, go on and ban this book," Tollett said. "I've been to book bannings. I've been to book burnings. It ain't a pretty sight."

Davis asked if Blalock would consider rescinding his motion. Blalock said his motion would stand.

Davis said, "My opinion of the book hasn't changed. I wouldn't want my child to read it. But that's my opinion. So be it if it's in the library. But we need a recommendation from the attorney before we do this."

He withdrew his support of the motion and the motion died for lack of support.

Text Only
Area News
  • Report of missing child turns out false; one charged

    A man living in Crossville set off a major search by law enforcement officers and about 40 employees of a retail store after he reported a small child missing. He later recanted and has now been charged with a misdemeanor charge.

    July 31, 2014

  • tourism-granville.jpg Tourism talk dominates roundtable meeting

    Tourism is big business in Cumberland County and the state of Tennessee.
    Tennessee state officials visited the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce and provided a wealth of information for a roundtable discussion County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. organized.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • School system closes budget with more in reserves than planned

    The school system is going to end the year with a little more in its reserves than originally thought, Bob Scarbrough, transportation/maintenance supervisor and acting CFO, at the July 24 meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Education.
    "We believe there will be $4.7 million in the fund balance, which is quite a bit better than anticipated," Scarbrough said.

    July 31, 2014

  • Investigation into assault continues

    A Sparta Hwy. man found with lacerations to the back of the head told Cumberland County sheriff's deputies he was assaulted at a residence on Hwy. 70 N, but doesn't know why.

    July 31, 2014

  • Theft, arson of storage shed reported

    Someone broke into a storage shed and stole several items and, to add insult to injury, set the storage building on fire, according to a Cumberland County Sheriff's Department report.

    July 31, 2014

  • Shop tax free this weekend

    With the return to school right around the corner and Cumberland County students set to return to classrooms Aug. 6, Tennesseans are reminded they can buy certain items without paying sales tax Aug. 1 through Aug. 3.

    July 30, 2014

  • state park bath house.jpg Historic CMSP bathhouse gets new use with renovation

    When a new pool was constructed at Cumberland Mountain State Park in the 1980s, the beach area was converted to a quiet place to watch the water and the bath house was boarded up.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cole dismissed from teaching position

    The Cumberland County Board of Education voted 8-1 to dismiss tenured special education teacher Stephanie Cole, who remains at the Cumberland County Jail without bond charged with the July 20 fatal shooting of Louis Tammaro Jr.

    July 29, 2014

  • Crash sends one to jail, cyclist to UT

    A crash involving a motorcycle and a pickup truck resulted in one man being flown to a regional trauma center and the second man being arrested after he fled the scene, Crossville Police reported.

    July 29, 2014

  • County to include more meeting info on web site

    Cumberland County commissioners approved a change in the commission's rules which requires the full package of materials supplied to the commissioners to be posted on the county's web site.

    July 29, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014