As a body, you made a policy error two weeks ago by removing five classic works of American literature from the school curriculum. You did so contrary to the earlier input and recommendations of a curriculum committee, dozens of parents, teachers, librarians, and the school administration.

You leave some of us wondering why you did so and by the manner in which you did. Was it because you were unfamiliar with these significant works, their literary value, and their merit as meaningful tools to educate high school students? Was is it simply a temporary lapse of sound judgment? Was this book ban premeditated? Do you have some hidden educational agenda we are unaware of?

Two works you banned from course studies are two iconic American military war books. I first read Joseph Heller’s "Catch-22" as a 15 year-old high school kid in the early 1960's. This satirical war novel written by a WWII veteran was a prescient work for me. This book didn’t hurt me. To the contrary, it made me more aware, and a few years later helped me make very difficult decisions during my two years of duty as a soldier in Vietnam.

More recently, this Christmas, my brother's 15 year-old granddaughter sent me a copy of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O’Brien, a Vietnam veteran. Why would a young high school girl send her great-uncle a semi-autobiographical memoir, a book she knew that I hadn’t read? The book was required reading in an English course she took in a public school in the Lower 48. Her class project, the reading of this work, our subsequent conversations and emails, and my gift to her of many Vietnam War related books (mostly non-fiction) caused her to send me the gift of "The Things They Carried". We learned a lot from one another and is a great example of precisely why we have such books included in high school curricula.

With these two books in mind, you've now created a glaring contradiction while moving in the wrong direction. The school district has active high school programs for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and invites military recruiters on campus. While the school district embraces military training and career paths for students on one hand, it now eliminates the study of war related literature on the other. How sadly ironic.

Please rescind your misguided error.

Warren Keogh,


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