S. Beaulieu: Reading materials need approval

As a resident and taxpayer of Turner, but more importantly, a parent, I have deep concerns with Turner Tripp Middle School's reading material that is available for educational use to young adolescent students.

In particular, I have strong concerns regarding the book "Bloodstream" by Tess Gerritsen. Its content includes descriptive details of teen violence, murder, a student shooting a teacher, harsh language, physical and sexual assaults, sexual suggestions between brother and stepsister, and medical procedures.

As a parent, I have high standards for a positive educational atmosphere in which I send my child to receive education. I strongly feel Tripp Middle School's reading material needs more attention and pre-approval by administrators.

In accordance to SAD 52 policy when teaching controversial issues, speakers must be approved in advance by building administrators. I strongly feel a requirement should also be in effect for any reading material purchased with school allowances or personal funds from individual staff for use or availability to students . Along with being pre-approved by administrators, such material should be deemed age-appropriate if it is to be used in support of the state of Maine educational curriculum.

Such guidelines would bring awareness to all administrators of material being purchased for use in the school classrooms.

In my opinion, regardless of students' backgrounds or social levels, content in Gerritsen's book is not age-appropriate and does not provide any educational benefits to young students.

Shannon Beaulieu, Turner

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Betty Davies's picture

Sounds like an excellent chance for a conversation

As a mother and grandmother who's seen and heard just about everything, my reaction to a child bringing home a Gerritsen book like this (or something similar) would be to read it myself and then discuss it with my child.

What did the child make of the book? Were they offended, perplexed, thrilled, terrified? Do they wish they'd never laid eyes on it, or are they asking me to order more just like it?

Especially, in view of recent events, I'd be curious to get the child's impression of Bloodstream's theme-- it looks like an effort on the part of a (fictional) community physician in a (fictional) town to come up with a reason for kids going berserk and killing people. The book was written in 1999, yet this question remains so pertinent!

If you want to make sure your child never finds out about mass murders, better unplug the TV and the computer. If you don't want them to hear bad language or find out about sex until their wedding night, well... good luck with that.

My own kids weren't permitted to watch TV or play video games, but they did attend school and spent overnights with friends. They both have vivid memories of being terrified to the point of lingering nightmares after attending a slumber party for another little child's birthday, in elementary school. The child's mom had selected a movie about bunny rabbits... Watership Down.

We dealt with it. They survived.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What really needs to stop

What really needs to stop happening in our schools is the teaching of 5th graders the proper method of applying a condom to a cucumber.

Jason Theriault's picture

Really Pirate?

This is one of those issues where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Teaching kids how to use condoms is better than having kids get pregnant.

And before you espouse the virtues of abstinence based education, let me tell you, as a graduate of Saint Doms, I had plenty of that. And it didn't stop one person from having sex. Not one. You have to remember, kids make mistakes. Lots of em. They shouldn't be having sex, but they will, regardless of what you tell them.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Maybe so, but when did it

Maybe so, but when did it become the school's responsibility to teach them how to do it?

Jason Theriault's picture

Same as Driver's ed

Most schools teach kids how to drive. They also teach sports and other non-education related things. Schools teach kids all sorts of stuff.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Have you ever considered

Have you ever considered seeking treatment for your myopia?
As a parent,you'll be o.k. when one of your kids comes home from school and informs you that, "We were taught how to perform the sex act today, Dad".

 's picture

What really needs to start

What really needs to start happening in our schools is the teaching, at all levels, of our country's history, and of the Constitution. Of course, that would require a crop of teachers who actually know something of those subjects, not just the diluted pablum dispensed since the 1960s.

A few years ago, I wrote a LTTE asking, among other things, if Maine schools still taught civics. It prompted a response from a high school senior who was rather annoyed with me. He assured me that, in his social studies (retch) class, they had spent an entire week (oh, the horror!) discussing the US Constitution. After that, I suppose they returned to the important issues of the day: socialism = good, capitalism = bad, gay marriage, sex without consequences and, the ever popular, global warming.

Betty Davies's picture

Because if teachers don't mention something, it isn't happening

Even though 99% of reputable scientists agree that devastating man-made changes to the global climate are occurring, if you can just make sure teachers are forbidden to mention them, they'll go away!

If you don't permit social studies teachers (or "civics" teachers) to discuss and evaluate society's laws governing marriage, gay people will no longer exist, or at least they'll stop needing or wanting or discussing civil rights.

Most important, never discuss socialism or democracy. No need to find out what these terms mean, or to evaluate relative areas of strength and weakness. Then commenters will be able to use "socialism!" as an all-purpose slur, no need to think about complexities..

We could return to the glory days of my own education--back in about 1961, my high school history teacher had us study every possible type of government, including monarchy, theocracy, democracy, socialism, communism, oligarchy, triumvirate--a nearly endless list. Then our task was to write a paper describing a method/organization of government that might work well. Most of us got creative, really weighing pros and cons, putting together plausible combinations, and describing our reasoning. One boy simply scotch-taped a copy of the US constitution onto his page. He got an A+. The rest of us failed. I'm not sure she even read the other papers.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

After the U.S. Constitution,

After the U.S. Constitution, what else was there to say? Discussing in class all those subjects you mention above is one thing; teaching them viable replacements for what we already have is a different matter altogether. Teachers and past teachers need to remember something; your job is to TEACH children, not attemtp to move them towards your pet political beliefs through indoctrination. You all know exactly what I'm talking about.

Betty Davies's picture


My teacher was attempting to indoctrinate us in her pet belief--which was that, when it comes to politics, rational thought is not necessary: simply accept that what he have right now in the US is perfection, and never attempt to question it or consider altering it in any way.

If the Framers had believed that, there would be no list of amendments to the Constitution.

The teacher could have listed on the board the various combinations of political arrangements the students had offered in their papers. We could have discussed them freely--some, I'm sure, had been come up with in just a few minutes by kids trying to get their homework over fast! We could have been guided to compare them with the system we enjoy as Americans.

Instead, she made it clear that she felt her function as a teacher was to shut down discussion--to clobber anyone with an "F" grade if they dared offer opinions different from accepted wisdom. Her brutal approach may have caused some students to decide always and forever to accept whatever an authority figure told them; it may have caused other students to resonate, a few years later, to the statement "Question authority!"

There was so much fear in those days. It's interesting to see people attempting to revive it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Early 60's, fearful times? I

Early 60's, fearful times? I suppose you could say that if you feared the fact that authoriy expected to be respected, unlike today where authority no longer has any respect for itself, let alone anything else.

Betty Davies's picture


This was the early 1960s. The effects of McCarthyism were still being felt. There was something close to terror associated with anything to do with that bogeyman, Communism. The TV show "I Led Three Lives" was popular--and scary. Many Hollywood writers etc. who had been blacklisted were still unable to find work.

At age 12 or 13 I was researching a paper on Russia. I came across an old copy of USSR magazine in a library in a large city. I sent in a few dollars to subscribe to it, just to see what recent issues would be like. A (different) teacher found out and told another, and wow! There was mass adult hysteria at my school. They were horrified that I had given "Commies" my name and address, and certain that there would be a concerted effort to recruit me. They demanded that I cancel my subscription. I declined. My parents (authorities) supported my decision (to resist teachers' authority).

Nothing happened. For a year, I received issues of a boring magazine full of photos of overweight women in ugly clothes driving tractors across endless fields of grain.

It's interesting that you claim that, today, authority has no respect for itself. The media and our everyday lives (perhaps not your own) are replete with examples of authorities who take themselves very seriously, indeed.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I never said they didn't take

I never said they didn't take themselves seriously. In fact, they take themselves far too seriously; to the extent that it makes it almost impossible to take them seriously. Most authority is synonymous with blowhard.
I remember the early 60's well. I almost got to take my first trip to Cuba when Castro was foolish enough to allow Kruschev to plant missiles aimed at the United States and expect no retaliation. President Kennedy was successful in changing their thinking.
Kennedy: When democrats still acted like Americans.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Amen, Brother.

Amen, Brother.


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