Comment: Why doesn’t Twigg read the books he wants banned? | Columnists
One Saturday in mid-June, Kirk Twigg answered his phone and for over half an hour chatted with me about Spotsylvania County and its public schools.
Twigg’s sharing of his vision for the county was illuminating and welcome, as he has been remarkably quiet on the subject. So far, the public has been able to judge him only on his dismissal of a respected and praised superintendent, making school board meetings eight-hour examples of unkind speeches, and his desire to burn books.
During our phone conversation, I found that we recognize many of the same issues within schools across the county. When asked if he agreed with Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors member David Ross’s desire to destroy our schools by supporting the good guys, Twigg said “no.”
I appreciated that he told me point-blank that he did not support school checks and charter schools. I appreciated that he appeared to hear me out on issues regarding maintenance in schools, and that parity does not exist between schools on this front.
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One important area we disagreed on, however, was the removal of books from school libraries.
I was asked to serve on a book review panel after a concerned parent in the county listed eight books that troubled her and, apparently, taken from a list of books often listed on conservative websites. Spotsylvania County policy is to have “disputed” books reviewed by a committee of people to read the title, then discuss the book in a review before sending a recommendation to the school board about its value for inclusion on the books. library shelves.
The county had to form eight such review boards, and I was asked to sit on the one that dealt with “America” by ER Frank. We found that “America” had many redeeming qualities and was an important book to keep on school library shelves. Our recommendation has been sent to the county. As a member of this committee, I was asked to sign a form stating that I had read the book “in its entirety” and that I had done so with an open mind.
Whether or not “America” will be on library shelves when schools reopen remains to be seen. The next step in the review process, if the affected parent appeals the committee’s findings, is a review by the superintendent, and at this time there is only an acting superintendent to review the committee’s findings or read the eight books.
Twigg does not believe reading the offending books is important or necessary. When I asked him if he had read the books, his response was, “I don’t have to, I’ve heard enough at school board meetings.”
Take a moment and consider this. A public servant, elected to a school board where his duty should be to county teachers and students, does not feel the need to read a book before removing it from library shelves, depriving students of the opportunity to read this book.
This is not to alleviate the concerns of parents who most certainly have the right to restrict or govern what their own children are exposed to, but to point out that a school board member sees no need to read a book he talks about maybe to be taken out of county schools.
I’m sure Twigg is a busy man. We are all.
But when the county follows policy on reviewing a book and recommendations are made by a committee of professionals and parents to keep that book on library shelves, one would expect anyone looking to disagreeing with this committee take the time to read the book themselves to make an informed decision on the literature before it is withdrawn.
Twigg has agreed with me that he has no right to control how I raise my child. He even agreed with me that he has no right to control what she reads. How can he not see that removing a book from a shelf does just that?
I sincerely appreciate that Twigg answered his phone, but now he must answer the call of accountability his elected office owes to the students and teachers of Spotsylvania.
Margaret Gallagher lives in Spotsylvania County and is a high school science teacher.