Parent Voices Concerns About Middle School’s Controversial Reading Selections

A parent, expressing concern, informed the Daily Caller News Foundation that Cooper Middle School in McClean, Virginia, provided an age-inappropriate reading list to their 7th-grade English class this year.

The English class curriculum included a diverse range of books, covering subjects such as illegal immigration and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, as evidenced by a copy of the list.

Although the list specifies that students are not required to read every book listed, an orientation video welcoming students to the class suggested that they would need to select books from the provided options unless a parent proposed an alternative school-approved book.

“The first time I got this syllabus was after the open house,” “Jane,” a parent who immigrated to the U.S. from Communist China and who requested anonymity so her child would not be bullied by teachers and students in the class, told the DCNF. “I didn’t think much of it at the time because I thought it was about teaching English. But. . . when I saw the second page, there were some words that looked completely unrelated.”

The list outlines eight fundamental themes that students will explore throughout the year by engaging with a “diverse selection of books” designed to “stimulate critical thinking” and encourage exploration of universal themes.

These themes include Identity, community, the unknown, loyalty, justice, ethics, perspective, and change. Students, whether enrolled in the honors-level course or regular English, were assigned slightly different reading materials, but both lists included books that stirred controversy due to their explicit sexual or violent content.

“My parents were little during the communist revolution,” Jane told the DCNF. “Every textbook was about indoctrination, whether about physics, math or Chinese language. There was politics everywhere. . . Now it looks like this ‘English’ class has become indoctrination.”

“The thing is, the whole state, the whole country has something wrong. Every person is like a small screw in a big machine. I wonder if the teachers really know what critical thinking really is,” Jane added. “When I was in China, we didn’t have freedom of speech. Now I feel like in the United States we are losing our freedom of speech. It’s not just about speech. It’s about thinking.”

Both course outlines include “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” a book authored by the contentious figure Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi has put forth the notion that every white individual possesses inherent racism and made comparisons between anti-lockdown protesters in 2020 and slaveholders.

“Stamped” is a modified version intended for younger audiences, derived from Kendi’s original work, “Stamped From The Beginning.” It offers a simplified presentation of his racial theories while encouraging students to participate in “building an antiracist America” by acknowledging the country’s racist history, as explained in an excerpt from the book’s preface.

“I saw the author [of one of the books], Kendi, and I read a report about him before,” Jane told the DCNF. “When I saw a book by him on the list, it was like an alarm to me. I started to Google books, and there are some on the honor’s list that are not on the others. There were some books promoted by BLM.”

“I don’t think schools should be giving these books to 7th graders in classrooms,” Jane added. “This curriculum is made to integrate an ideology about identity. I don’t think it’s correct for a teacher to promote their political agenda at a public school. They’re on the taxpayer’s money, we pay their salary.”

The list includes several additional books that advocate for ideas aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, such as “The Hate U Give,” “Dear Martin,” “All American Boys,” “Ghost Boys,” “Just Mercy,” “New Kid,” and “A Good Kind of Trouble.” Each of these books employs a fictional storyline to acquaint students with concepts like “microaggressions,” contemporary white supremacy, police misconduct, and inherent racism.

Jane voiced her apprehension regarding certain books she believed had hidden motives or contained explicit themes that she deemed unsuitable for 12- and 13-year-old children. She cited an example, “Gracefully Grayson,” a book depicting a young boy’s journey in realizing his identity as a girl and his desire to undergo a gender transition as the story unfolds.

“The students are vastly growing, not just with their bodies but with their minds,” Jane told the DCNF. “They [public schools] want to interfere with our children, and they want to make our children follow them, to accept their ideology. Identity is important. But discovering identity is a lifelong journey.”

Other narratives, such as “Shatter Me,” “Uglies,” “The Fifth Wave,” and “Five Feet Apart,” center around characters desiring physical intimacy or sexual connection but facing various impediments. “Shatter Me,” in particular, employs elements of eroticism to underscore the protagonist’s inability to make physical contact due to her lethal power, which results in the death of anyone she touches.

“His hand. On me,” a passage at the very beginning of “Shatter Me” reads, describes the first time the main character is touched by her male cellmate. “2 tips of 2 fingers graze my cloth covered shoulder for less than a second and every muscle of every tendon in my body is fraught with tension that clenches my spine.”