Controversial English materials concern some

“I would like to think … that parents trust their teachers’ judgment,” English 10 and IB Film teacher Pierce Bello said. Bello said that he hopes “parents trust [him] to choose works of art both written and visual (for film) that teaches students something about life or about the curriculum.”

Every year, the English Department works with parents who want to change the current curriculum or have their children read alternative texts.

“Well basically, I feel two ways about it. Obviously the teacher in me, I’ll be honest, gets somewhat defensive. However, I am not a parent so I don’t know these students as well as … parents do,” Bello said.

Bello, in his English 10 classes, has featured controversial books such as The Kite Runner and screened multiple R-rated movies for his IB Film students. The English Department has had parents request that their students read alternative texts because of either religious conflicts or adult content.

Education, Bello said, is all about collaboration with parents and students. He has only has two instances where parents have requested a different book for their students: one involving witchcraft in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and another with the rape scene in The Kite Runner. On the other hand, Bello has also gotten strong support from parents when he notifies them of controversial books. Bello said that he had a parent a few years ago tell him that she had no problem with her son watching R movies because “life’s rated R … I think is kind of somewhat telling.”

English teacher Marilyn Bart, however, has never had a parent object to the content of a book. Bart said, “Parents just want their kids to get good grades and be successful and don’t mind the way they do that.”

“It’s about trust,” IB English teacher Jeannine Mortell said. The parents “trust us to not submit their children to something that would be damaging to them and we take that trust very seriously.”

Bello said he is very open-minded about the requests for alternative literature. “We are always eager to work with parents to compromise and find an alternate text,” Bello said.

Bello feels “quiet passionately” about having his students read books like The Kite Runner which he considers the “Catchers [in the Rye] of this generation.” He chooses all of his books that will teach students something about the curriculum in a “meaningful engaging way.”

“Some of our kids are just on the threshold of getting out there on the real world,” Bello said. “I hate to say it but some aspects of life aren’t as peachy-keen as the things we see in PG-13 or PG or G movies.”

Mortell explained that the English Department takes the trust they have with parents very seriously and said they try very hard to choose “the best text for challenging their child’s thinking forcing them to go beyond simplistic views of the world.”