Dad arrested for protesting ‘pornographic’ book at school board meeting

May 6, 2014

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Ben Velderman Ben Velderman

Ben was a communications specialist for EAG from 2010 until August 2014. He is a former member of the Michigan Education Association.
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GILFORD, N.H. – The New Hampshire father who was disgusted with school officials for assigning a sexually explicit novel to his 14-year-old daughter was arrested at Monday night’s school board meeting and charged with disorderly conduct.

William BaerUnionleader.com reports William Baer was arrested and taken away in handcuffs from the meeting “because he would not stop protesting” the district’s policy of assigning “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult to its 9th grade English students.

In a previous interview with EAGnews, Baer described portions of the novel as “pornography” and said he was appalled that Gilford High School officials assigned the book without giving parents any notice of what was in it – or giving them a chance to opt their children out of the assignment.

Gilford school officials say Picoult’s novel – which tells the story of a school shooting and how it impacts various individuals – has been part of the curriculum since 2007. Gilford officials say that parents are normally notified of the book’s controversial nature before it is assigned, and acknowledge they failed to do so this year.

Before Baer addressed the board on Monday evening, he was told he had two minutes to speak. Unionleader.com reports that Baer “went beyond that time and sat down, but then got into an argument with another parent who approved of the book at the high school.”

Baer asked board members what “the remedy” should be, but “the board said it would not take questions on the matter,” UnionLeader.com adds.

Baer was then approached by a police officer.

“You are going to arrest me because I violated the two-minute rule?” Baer asked. “I guess you are going to have to arrest me.”

The officer escorted Baer out of the meeting and arrested him – which must have seemed to Baer like a fitting ending to this “Alice in Wonderland” experience.

Here’s the big picture of this outrageous incident: The parent who exposed the district’s failure to warn families about the novel gets arrested for protesting too vigorously while all of the school district’s well-paid, highly trained employees who are responsible for causing the problem – from the superintendent down to the high school principal and English teachers – walk away scott free.

If that’s not an outrage, then please tell us what is.

Some good did come of Baer’s efforts, though.

The Gilford school board – which should receive a thorough housecleaning from voters, in our view – said it will revise its policies so parents have to opt their children “in” for controversial material, rather than just allowing them to opt out.

Baer has also succeeded in waking up more parents to what passes as “educational” in many government-run public schools. (No, we’re not saying Picoult’s novel is without merit. But please don’t embarrass yourself by arguing that it’s a modern-day literary masterpiece on par with Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”)

Hopefully, this incident – which is merely the latest in a long line of outrages – gets more Americans to see the need for genuine school choice. That way, parents can send their kids to a school where they’ll actually receive a quality education, free of R-rated reading material, left-wing indoctrination and all the Common Core nonsense that’s plaguing public education.

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