School News

Reconsideration materials

Reconsideration of Instructional Materials

On November 12, 2021, the Urbandale Community School District received a formal written request for reconsideration of five books (titles included below) that can be found in our middle school and/or high school media centers as well as in a high school classroom library. Upon receipt of the request for reconsideration, and in accordance with UCSD Board Policy 627, a temporary review committee was formed to review the request for reconsideration. The committee – consisting of teachers, high school students, community members, a teacher librarian, and an administrator – read all five books included in the reconsideration request. 

Reconsideration Committee Meeting
On December 13, the committee held a public meeting in order to listen to presentations and engage in a discussion about each book. The committee listened to presentations from the complainant, the UMS teacher librarian, the UHS teacher librarian, and two UHS classroom teachers.

Following the presentations, committee members entered into public deliberation regarding the merits of each book. The committee vetted each book separately by referencing the content of the formal written request for reconsideration and criteria A–J for selecting instructional materials from UCSD Board Policy 627. The committee’s discussions centered around two main questions from the instructional materials reconsideration document: 1) What harmful effects upon students might result from the use of this material? and 2) What is the instructional value that results from the use or availability of this material?

Once the discussion concluded for each book, committee members received individual forms for which they selected the action they believed most appropriate for the  book. Options included:

  1. the instructional material be retained and used as planned; or
  2. all or part of the instructional material be withdrawn; or
  3. all or part of the instructional material be limited in its use; or
  4. a different method of presentation of the instructional material be utilized.

Reconsideration Committee Recommendations

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson
Summary: This text discusses the intersectionality of the author’s two identities. As a memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue represents a depiction of the author’s lived experiences as an African American boy and as a person struggling to determine their sexual identity. This book aligns with multiple criteria used for the selection of instructional materials, particularly criteria F: fostering respect for cultural diversity and criteria g: motivating students to examine their own responsibilities, rights, and privileges as participating members in a pluralistic society. Finally, as the book is rated by multiple agencies, including the School Library Journal, for grades 9-12, the recommendation is for it to remain available as a library book of choice at Urbandale High School.  

Recommendation: Instructional Material be retained and used as planned (7 votes) All or part of the instructional material be limited in its use (1 vote)

 

“Gender Queer” by Maia Kabobe
Summary: Gender Queer is a memoir written in a graphic novel format. The author describes their journey through childhood and early adulthood as a person who feels great discomfort in their own body. This book aligns with multiple criteria used for the selection of instructional materials, particularly criteria F: fostering respect for others and criteria H: encouraging students to make independent judgements and use critical thinking skills. This text is a former Iowa High School “Battle of the Books” title. Finally, as the book is rated by the School Library Journal as grades 9+, the recommendation is for it to remain available as a library book of choice at Urbandale High School.

Recommendation: Instructional Material be retained and used as planned (5 votes) and All or part of the instructional material be limited in its use (3 votes)

 

“Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison
Summary: Lawn Boy is a work of fiction. This book won an Alex Award from the American Library Association as a book written for adults with special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. This book aligns with several criteria for the selection of instructional materials including criteria e: social value of instructional materials; criteria f: fostering respect for a variety of roles and cultural diversity; and criteria h: making independent judgements through an examination of different viewpoints. Finally, as this book is rated by the School Library Journal as appropriate for “teens,” the recommendation is for it to remain available as a library book of choice at Urbandale High School. 

Recommendation: Instructional Material be retained and used as planned (7 votes) and All or part of the material be withdrawn (1 vote)

 

“The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
Summary: The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young man growing up on an Indian reservation and attending a majority-white public school off of the reservation. Winner of multiple awards, this text aligns with both the UCSD library curriculum and English/Language Arts curriculum. Further, it aligns with multiple criteria for the selection of instructional materials including criteria c: accessibility to the reader and multiple points of view; criteria e: cultural value, specifically with respect to indigenous peoples; criteria h: making independent judgements and utilizing higher order thinking in the examination of and coping with family substance abuse issues and poverty. Finally, as the School Library Journal recommends this text to an audience of students in grades 7 through 10, the recommendation is for it to remain available as a library book of choice at both Urbandale Middle School and Urbandale High School, as well as remain as a text selection for Urbandale High School to use with students.

Recommendation: Instructional Material be retained and used as planned (8 votes)

 

“Hey, Kiddo” by Jarrett Krosoczka
Summary: Hey, Kiddo is a memoir written in a graphic novel format. The author describes his experiences being raised by his maternal grandparents as his mother struggles with substance abuse and addiction. Winner of multiple awards, Hey, Kiddo was also named a 2021-22 finalist for the Iowa High School Book Award. Further, it aligns with multiple criteria for the selection of instructional material including criteria c: accessibility and appeal to readers; criteria e: aesthetic and social value, as well as author’s intent of describing a difficult personal experience and his ultimate success as an adult; criteria f: fostering respect of a variety of life-styles in society with respect to the author’s non-traditional family structure. Finally, as the School Library Journal recommends this text to an audience of students in grades 7+, the recommendation is for it to remain available as a library book of choice at both Urbandale Middle School and Urbandale High School.

Recommendation: Instructional Material be retained and used as planned (8 votes)

 

Reconsideration Outcome
On December 14, the committee submitted their recommendations to the high school principal in accordance with UCSD Board Policy 627. On December 20, the high school principal issued a written decision in support of the committee’s recommendations and submitted a copy of the decision to the person requesting reconsideration, to the licensed staff member who held the informal meeting, to the chair of the review committee, and to the Superintendent for transmittal to the Board of Directors. Pursuant to Board Policy 229, the person requesting reconsideration submitted an appeal of the decision to the Superintendent. The person requesting reconsideration met with the Superintendent. The complainant withdrew their appeal to the Board; thus, no further action will be taken.