GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Over the past few weeks, Grants Pass School Board members have had some homework of their own, as they read through the award winning book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Tuesday, school board members voted 4-1 to allow the book in English classes next year.
230 pages and the ability to make uninterested students hooked on reading. That’s what teachers in favor of adding the book to the school’s curriculum say the book contains.
“To get kids engaged in reading in hopes that kids will read more and more and develop into active readers,” said Grants Pass High School Assistant Principal Tommy Blanchard.
The school district’s curriculum council — composed of parents of students in a variety of grades — feels differently and has advised the school district to remove the book because of excessive profanity use and sexual passages. Teachers, on the other hand, feel the issues at hand aren’t the focus of the book.
“The topics, if you read the book, don’t overshadow the important things and lessons and discussions that can be had from this book,” said Blanchard.
After having a chance to read the book for themselves, school board members met Tuesday and voted 4 to 1 in favor of allowing it, but with some restrictions. Parents must be notified before the book is used in class, and if necessary, a substitute book can be used for a student. School board member Gary Richardson voted against allowing it, saying it isn’t wise to endorse a controversial subject.
“About the only thing the teachers had to say about it was they thought it would be interesting to a particular demographic of our students. There’s other books that I’m sure are interesting to that demographic that could have been used instead,” said Richardson.
School officials said English teachers wouldn’t be in favor of the material if they felt it was inappropriate.
“Had the department thought that it was offensive enough, or going to cause so many problems that it wasn’t going to be worth the time to use this book and teach the material, then it never would have been brought forth,” said Blanchard.