New Hampshire father opposes required reading of ‘pornographic’ novel in 9th grade English

May 5, 2014

Ben Velderman Ben Velderman

Ben is a communications specialist for EAG and joined in 2010. He is a former member of the Michigan Education Association.
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UPDATE: Dad arrested at school board meeting…

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GILFORD, N.H. – William Baer has encountered some eyebrow-raising policies and practices during his children’s years in public schools, but he still wasn’t prepared for what he discovered last Wednesday night.

Jodi Picoult bookThat was the night Baer learned that his 14-year-old daughter had been assigned to read a novel that contains a passage so sexually explicit that he described it as “pornographic.”

The novel, “Nineteen Minutes,” by Jodi Picoult is a controversial book that tells the story of a fictional school shooting and the people it affects. Though the book has been part of the curriculum in New Hampshire’s Gilford High School since 2007, when it was assigned last Monday, school officials gave no notice to parents of freshmen English students that the book was being read, or of the novel’s sexually explicit content.

Baer tells EAGnews he became aware of the book’s objectionable material purely by chance. A family friend was visiting last Wednesday and talking to Baer’s 14-year-old daughter about how things were going in school. When she mentioned that she’d just been assigned the novel, the friend picked up the book and casually opened it to page 313 which contains a very graphic description of a sexual encounter between two adolescents. The friend was aghast as he read the passage, and asked Baer if he was aware of the book’s content.

“I was shocked when I read the passage, and not much shocks me anymore,” Baer says. “My wife was stunned by the increasingly graphic nature of the sexual content of the scene and the imagery it evoked.”

Here’s an excerpt from the explicit passage:

“‘Relax,’ Matt murmured, and then he sank his teeth into her shoulder. He pinned her hands over her head and ground his hips against hers. She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach.

” … She couldn’t remember ever feeling so heavy, as if her heart were beating between her legs. She clawed at Matt’s back to bring him closer.

“‘Yeah,’ he groaned, and her pushed her thighs apart. And then suddenly Matt was inside her, pumping so hard that she scooted backward on the carpet, burning the backs of her legs. … (H)e clamped his hand over her mouth and drove harder and harder until Josie felt him come.

“Semen, sticky and hot, pooled on the carpet beneath her.”

Understandably, Baer doesn’t want his daughter exposed to this kind of material, and says the school “has no business introducing such themes” to his daughter.

He’s also disturbed by school officials’ failure to notify parents that this novel was assigned, and there was no opportunity to “opt out.”

Baer, who is an attorney, believes that if someone stood outside the school and handed out copies of the novel’s sexually charged passage to students, he would likely be arrested and prosecuted.

He questions why it’s acceptable for “the state, through its schools and agents,” to mandate reading and discussing this same material.

In a written response to an EAGnews inquiry, Gilford school leaders admit they didn’t warn parents of the book’s controversial nature like they have in previous years, and promised to send a letter to the home “of all students who are currently assigned the book.”

We can only wonder whether the school leadership will see fit to include page 313 with its notice.

Government schools pushing their perverted worldview

For Baer, this incident is the latest indication that the nation’s public education system is bent on indoctrinating children with moral relativism.

He believes the politicians and educators running the public school system want to dismantle the family unit, and undermine traditional morality, “though they’re never going to admit this.”

“Many people in education and government truly believe our children are theirs. That parents are only the custodians who feed them and put a roof over their head. These school incidents are a byproduct of this ‘we know best’ philosophy. They believe they have the authority to do this. If people were more complacent, which is hard to imagine, it’d be even worse.”

Baer plans to attend the Gilford School Board meeting on Monday evening to discuss this issue with the leadership of the school.

An EAGnews investigation finds that Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes” is used in several school districts throughout the nation.

California’s Sobrato High School includes the novel on its “9th Grade Advanced Common Core” recommended reading list.

Pennsylvania’s Deer Lakes High School includes the book in its “Advanced Academic English II” class.

G.W. Hewlett High School in New York has made the novel part of its summer reading list for incoming 11th graders. The district, however, does caution parents that some of the books on the list contain “mature” language and content.

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