Consider the intersection of freedom and decontextualized fragments.
The specific “decontextualized fragments” in question appear in great and not-so-great works of literature, assigned in public schools for young adults to read: a graphic rape scene in Toni Morrison’s Beloved; racial slurs in Huckleberry Finn; sex, violence.
“Virginia regulators are drafting rules that would require school districts to red-flag objectionable teaching material and make it easier for parents to control what books their children see in the classroom,” reports the Washington Post.
Those regulations won’t be finalized for a year or more (because government bureaucracies are painfully slow). Yet an “earlier version of the language released on a state website drew hundreds of comments from the public,” the Post informs.
“Most parents were supportive of the change. . . .”
Stafford County Public Schools literacy coordinator Sarah Crain worries about literature being wrongly labeled “sexually explicit.” To “reduce a book or a work down to something that is a mere decontextualized fragment of the work,” she argues, “actually impedes the ability for teachers and parents to have informed conversations.”
What about freedom?
Well, public schools aren’t primarily about freedom.
Teachers have a job to do; students follow instruction.
And it is pretty easy to see one reason for the opposition by “the professionals”: the new rules would entail more work.
Nonetheless, parents and their kids deserve as much choice as can be provided. And in every context.
Here, freedom means acknowledging the right of parents to decide. Not experts. Parents.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.