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'Porn' No Longer on Emmaus High Summer Reading Lists

Emmaus High School Principal Dave Piperato tells East Penn School Board members that he and the parent who challenged two books on the Emmaus High School summer reading have reached an agreement.

Emmaus High School Principal David Piperato told the East Penn Board of School Directors last night that a verdict has been reached regarding two books from the EHS summer reading list some parents considered to be potentially “pornographic” in nature.

The summer reading program at Emmaus High School entered the limelight in September when two parents came before the school board to voice their concerns about the graphic sexual and drug-related content of two books on the list -- Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” which was on the 10th grade list, and “Prep,” a 9th-grade selection written by Curtis Sittenfeld.

A subsequent written challenge to both books under District Policy 109 by a third parent touched off a formal district review process.

The book at the center of the East Penn controversy, “Prep,” will no longer be a 9th-grade summer reading list selection, Piperato told the board. Instead it will be added to the 12th grade Advanced Placement reading list – part of what is called the teacher book bag – that Piperato emphasized is a collection of optional reading material.

“It was agreed that that book should be moved up in terms of grade level,” Piperato said. “The content is too mature for eighth-graders moving into ninth grade. No student will be required to read that book.”

In addition, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” will no longer be on the English department’s summer reading list, Piperato explained, since the curriculum has shifted in the direction of teaching non-fiction works in the classroom. The summer reading list will contain only fiction books.

He did point out that the social studies program at the high school has expressed an interest in teaching non-fiction works.

After the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger said it is unlikely that “Acid Test” will make its way to a summer reading list in the social studies department since its subject matter does not fit with the subject matter being taught in social studies.

Piperato said that after several rounds of meetings with the parent who had challenged the books and the English department, he felt that not only were the parent’s concerns with the specific summer reading books addressed, but the summer reading program improved in the process.

For starters, Piperato said, the books on the summer reading program will now be reviewed on an annual basis, both in terms of the number of students selecting each book and the student work being generated.

”The program will not be stagnant,” Piperato said. “We are going to ask ‘are students picking the books and how often they are being used?’ And, those books not being used or providing the work that the teacher asked for will be cycled off.”

Plus, Piperato told the board, the high school also determined that “some of the warnings for books with mature content need to be a bit stronger and that the reading list itself and those warnings need to be a little more available to parents.”

Piperato listed several ways the high school will alert parents that the summer reading list has been released, including telephone blasts and a link on the landing page of the EHS website.

“This way parents can click through the reading list and make an informed decision about what book they want their child to read,” he said.

Both “Acid Test” and “Prep” are still available in the Emmaus High School library.

Garrett Rhoads December 12, 2012 at 04:34 AM
My children do not get "exposed to worse" because my wife and I monitor what they watch on TV and what they do on the internet. I know and understand that not all parents have this luxury of time, but my wife & I chose to live a smaller lifestyle so that we could parent our children instead of leaving it to the entertainment industry. To make the argument that we should just "give up" and let pop culture raise our kids is the lazy way out. I spoke out against these books being on a recommended reading list, but I also made my argument AGAINST banning these books from any library. If parents want their kids to read adult material (PREP is sold in the ADULT FICTION section of the bookstore), then so be it. I have no right to tell them they can't. I do agree with Ms. Slivka that our kids should not be deliberately exposed to such controversial material. I have read this book cover to cover. Have you?
Garrett Rhoads December 12, 2012 at 04:40 AM
I was one of the parents who spoke out against "the promotion of the book on the recommended reading list", NOT to ban the book from the library! The school district, on it's own, decided to make this decision with NO INPUT from the public other than their conversations with Ms. Slifka. Anyone saying that this decision made INTERNALLY by the district itself is some part of a political conspiracy is just looking to point political fingers themselves. Get over it. I am all for free speech, but we do have maintain some level of minimal decency for our children. Otherwise, we would be letting Jr. High Schoolers check out Playboys and Hustlers.
Garrett Rhoads December 12, 2012 at 04:51 AM
I say Amen to LoMacRes. Recommended reading lists should be continually reviewed and vetted by faculty with parental input (NOT say-so). There are so many worthwhile literary works produced on a regular basis, it would be refreshing to see the list change with the times. As someone who wanted the two books in question to be promoted to older students (not banned), I would love to see new works introduced. A healthy perspective. Thank you LoMacRes.
optimist December 12, 2012 at 05:52 AM
No such thing as a recomended reading list. The district does have a summer reading list. Why not just file a 109 challenge? Why make speeches unless you are running for office?
careless fills December 12, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Optimist is correct - it is not a recommended reading list - instead, it is actually a required reading list! A student MUST read two of the selections from the list. If it was a recommended reading list, students could read other books for assignment credit, but that doesn't seemt to be the choice here - they must pick books from this list. Fortunately, the problem is resolved. Good night!

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