Fremont school board rejects controversial book

Bastard Out of CarolinaFor the second year in a row, the school board rejected Dorothy Allison’s “Bastard Out of Carolina” as suitable reading material for AP English classes. The book is about a girl who is beaten and raped by her stepfather. Trustees said they’re disturbed by the graphic depiction of violence. Hopefully the latest story will be posted online soon. To read a story from earlier this week (before yesterday’s meeting), click here.

Last year, the board voted 3-2 not to accept the book, which was recommended by the district’s secondary schools’ textbook adoption committee. This year, the vote was 4-1. (Trustees Lily Mei, Larry Sweeney, Ivy Wu and Lara York voted not to approve the book; Bryan Gebhardt supported it.) York switched her vote from last year, saying books that had just been reviewed the year before should not return to the board so soon for reconsideration.

“I don’t think it’s productive for the board to have the same conversation over and over,” she said.

The board plans to change its policy so that in the future, books that are denied can’t be brought back for reconsideration for at least two years.

Linh Tat


  1. As an ap English student from the past year I can safely say that there isn’t anything docile about the material we already read. From brave new world to the trial and death of Socrates, the texts are abundant in material that makes one challenge normal conceptions of reality. I think that if the reason the book was rejected was sexuality, the rejection wasn’t justified. We are talking about high school seniors after all, they choose to take this class. Nobody is forced into aps. I feel they are mature enough to make a decision regarding wether or not they wanted to be exposed to the material.

  2. Mama Bear: they have to take action when a book is proposed for review, the thing is this one was a re-hash of last year’s action on the same book.
    Ishan: I hear ya, back in the day we read Faulkner, Conrad and Joyce, there’s literary sex and mayhem all over the place. This book seems to touch a nerve.

  3. I wonder how they would vote on this? And Tango Makes Three. What EVER! NEXT! OPEN YOUR EYES FUSD! Just look around you!

  4. I think opening up kids to controversial books is good, it brings a debate into classroom.

    It goes beyond just the words in the book, it also opens up a conversation regarding society, and why the book is considered a taboo/scary/uncomfortable.

    Further,young adults, who like reading, end up reading everything under the sun.. just because they enjoy reading.

  5. Mama Bear- I believe the issue isn’t so much whether the kids can or cannot read the book (since the book is apparently available from the school library). The issue is whether the book should be placed on a REQUIRED reading list for the class.

    There are lots of books, controversial or otherwise, that probably do not need to be placed on a required reading list for the students.

  6. Hell, you wanna really get disturbed, take a gander at the economics textbook that fremont’s Seniors use. It’s completely ridiculous. There’s a whole section about something called the “invisible hand” that controls the market. It never suggests what this “hand” is in reality and also never clarifies if it is a euphemism (which it’s gotta be huh?) or just a figure of speech. According to the textbook, the “invisible hand” is a real thing…like the Federal Reserve, or the Department of Weights and Measures. I wouldn’t have believed this shit if I hadn’t seen it myself.
    I know this doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic at hand, but I just had to mention it.
    It’s something that the Argus intelligent readers should be more concerned about than a book about “A GIRL WHO GETS RAPED BY HER STEPDAD AND THEN BEAT UP BY HIM AND THEN RAPED AGaIN” that Fremont students will now have to read on their own time over the Summer instead of being forced to read in the fall.

    The Invisible Hand -My Ass! I swear I’m not making this up.

  7. Tony- “Invisible hand” is a very common metaphor used by economists to describe certain forces and mechanisms that act upon and regulate markets. I haven’t read the textbook that you are referring to, but many standard economics texts will refer to this metaphor in trying to explain why markets act the way they do. For example, “self interest” is a type of invisible hand that will cause entities to act in a certain way, even in the absence of overt actions by “visible” hands such as the Federal Reserve.

  8. Steve-then why isn’t it called “self interest”? That would be a lot more accurate than this “invisible hand” mumbo jumbo that suggests something is a lot less earth-bound. The idea that we are actually allowing kids to be submitted to this non-sense is disturbing. High School Seniors being given “eye-in-the-sky” metaphors instead of reality.
    Better to blame something that is invisible for 12% unemployment than the smirking executive who just took a crap in your living room but won’t admit that he did it until He does a “full investigation”.
    “Time to fix the New police Station with your money Mr. Fremont. We wouldn’t want it to fall down.”
    “But you just built it?”
    “true, but it must be reinforced. ”
    ” Hold oN! Who was the contract-”
    and before any relevant questions can be put forth, questions that might prove that money is being unnecessarily spent… or worse. ..
    …an invisible hand covers the mouth before the words can come out. Got it kids? good. Now all to
    get her.,
    “I pledge aliegence, aleegence? aleigence, !?aleiagance. ? “that’s okay, don’t worry about not being able to spell it for now. as long as you can say it is fine.”
    “I can’t spell it either and I’m the teacher! Let that be a “tattoo” lesson for ya to remember in the remembering years.”
    Ha ha HHaaaaHHa ha ha hahhhhaaahahahaha!!!!!!

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