Spring Awakening album cover

“Spring Awakening,” “Rise” and what’s “appropriate”: A conversation with my daughter

My professional concerns collide with my parenting worries:  What is “appropriate” for young people? How should schools and communities respond to “controversial” content and issues? How can teens and adults communicate about difficult topics? Here’s a peek into the talks my daughter and I’ve had about Rise, Spring Awakening, and the tough topics that teens and adults work through every day.

Parents & Intellectual Curiosity

While parents absolutely can, and should, be aware of what their children read and are exposed to and be actively engaged in helping students process what they are reading, I also believe books are a safe way for children to learn and expand their perspectives and horizons and challenge their own preexisting world views. Parents can play a critical role in helping them do so.

Make Partnerships, Not Permission Slips: Seven Intellectual Freedom Tips for Classroom Reading

Recent book challenges in the news have involved permission slips sent home by classroom teachers when students would be reading a potentially controversial book, and I’d like to take some time to review the bigger picture surrounding classroom text selection, parent communication, and the sticky question of “permission.”

School Yearbooks as Free Speech

The decision to pull all of the yearbooks smacks of viewpoint discrimination. Justice William Brennan in his dissent on Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier warned that the decision to protect students from controversial or sensitive topics is actually “camouflage” for viewpoint discrimination: “Even in its capacity as educator the State may not assume an Orwellian ‘guardianship of the public mind.”

Tallahassee Florida Old and New Capital buildings

Top 5 Questions About Florida’s New Instructional Materials Bill

The Florida legislature is well on its way to approving a bill that could have dramatic consequences for Florida students’ and teachers’ intellectual freedom. Proponents of HB 989 / SB 1210 claim that the bill improves transparency and gives parents a stronger voice in their children’s education. But we have to ask questions about these claims.