HPISD will expand the literature selection process to apply community standards criteria and consider school conduct policies so that classroom materials are age appropriate.
The current HPISD approach places the burden on the parents (not the district) to establish a new standard for the literature choices by protesting and reviewing literature on a book-by-book basis.
Moving forward, we ask the district to establish community standard criteria to guide the literature selection process. We believe this would allow families from multiple viewpoints to feel comfortable with what their children are reading and discussing in class. We also believe it would serve the district and all families well in the future to define criteria for community standards now, before this current debate subsides.
HPISD will be transparent in the selection and reconsideration of all reading materials.
Require notation for parental consent on all HPISD book lists
At the September 9, 2014 Board Meeting, the English Department shared the first public HPHS Approved Book List, which is now posted on the school website. We ask the district to note the books on the list that require parental consent.
Close the loophole for assigned readings from the AP book list
Currently, only books on the HPHS Approved Book list go through an established approval process — meaning HPHS teachers can use any selections from the AP book list without review and discussion by a committee and without requiring informed parental consent. We believe selections from the AP Reading List should be evaluated through the district’s literature selection process prior to their use.
Publish complete text rationales
Right now, many of the text rationales for controversial books do not meet the district’s own criteria. This situation creates an obstacle for family decisions regarding book choices and limits the information necessary for a fair reconsideration process. Click here to see the district’s criteria for what a text rationale should include. The district should ensure that text rationales for potentially controversial books are completed per the district’s policy and that all books added since 2005 have a complete rationale (per district policy).
Full disclosure of controversial material for parental consent
Prior to the assignment of controversial reading materials, we ask the district to provide parents with complete content descriptions. Notification will allow parents to make an informed decision regarding their child’s assignment. We request parental permission forms for all potentially controversial reading materials in ALL classes be published online.
Open access and records of literature selection committees
The district should publicly share information regarding teacher sponsorship of proposed books, participants of literature selection/review committees, recommendations of literature review committees, and final decisions of district administrators.
HPISD will form literature committees to select and review literature that provide fair representation to people with diverse viewpoints.
In addition to nominations received through school groups, we ask for self-nomination to be an option that is provided through policy.
The process of opting out of objectionable books needs to be expanded to provide alternatives that do not penalize students who choose to opt out.
Several of our goals have grown out of difficult situations faced by families attempting to “opt out” of a book, as they have been met with resistance, isolation, and other unreasonable consequences. Some students were told their grades would suffer if they changed books. Students have also been subject to tests covering the materials they have opted out of, and received failing grades as a result. Additionally, when a request for an alternate book was accommodated, at times teachers did not provide an alternate choice that established the same course objective and afforded the student an equal opportunity to learn. See why HPISD needs to improve opting out.