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Wednesday
Aug072013

Review of Rainbow Rowell Book "Eleanor & Park"


Please Note That Current Status Updates Are Available At The Bottom of this Post

It has recently come to our attention that the book chosen and promoted by the Anoka-Hennepin High Schools for the Rock the Book Summer Read 2013 program this year was titled Eleanor & Park by author Rainbow Rowell.

Based on a report written by two parents of a freshman student that participated in the reading program (READ THE REPORT HERE), this book is littered with extreme profanity and age-inappropriate subject matter that should never be put into the hands and minds of minor children, much less promoted by the educational institutions and staff we entrust to teach and protect our children.

Yet, this is exactly what five Anoka-Hennepin high school media specialists did when they made the decision that this crude and sexually charged material was appropriate to hand out to hundreds of our children without their parents knowledge or consent.

According to district personnel there were between 175 and 250 high school students that participated in the reading program and were given a copy of the book.  It has also come to our attention that there are over 70 copies of the book available throughout  all five of the Anoka-Hennepin high school libraries, as well as in the Anoka Middle School for the Arts - Fred Moore campus library, risking exposing hundreds more children as young as age 12 to this vulgar material.

The formal process has been initiated with the district to try to get the books removed from the libraries as well as implement more stringent standards with regard to the selection of educational materials, but so far there has been no indication from the district staff that they feel the book is inappropriate or needs to be removed.

Because of the apparent lack of moral awareness shown by the district staff at all levels we feel that it has become necessary to engage the parents and residents of the district to push the necessary changes from the top down and accelerate the removal of this profane and inappropriate material more quickly than the district’s formal process will allow.

In order to do this, we need YOUR help.  We have put together some simple steps you can take to further educate yourself about the book and contact the school board to express  your feelings about the situation and request their help to get it removed.

 

  • Check out the book at your local library and read it.  The report above provides chapter and page numbers that allow for quick reference of the inappropriate material.  If you are not able to read the book you can preview parts of the book on Amazon.com using their "Look Inside" feature.

Please contact the members of the school board and district staff responsible for oversight of the Anoka-Hennepin school district media centers and libraries.  A list of the current school board members and their contact information is provided below and you can also e-mail one or all of the school board members from the Anoka-Hennepin website by clicking here.

If you do choose to contact district personnel about this issue please be calm and respectful in all of your communications.  We need to request that they address the following items:

  • That all parents of children who participated in the A-H Rock the Book Summer Read 2013 program, or who have checked out the book from the school libraries, be individually notified that their child(ren) were exposed to this extreme material so that the parents can take whatever steps they feel necessary to counter any messages that may be incongruent with their moral beliefs.
  • That all copies of the book "Eleanor & Park" be immediately removed from all Anoka-Hennepin school libraries which currently have over 70 copies in circulation.
  • That appropriate disciplinary action be taken against the Media Center Specialists who reviewed and knowingly approved and promoted this book for use with our minor children in the Anoka-Hennepin school libraries and as part of the Rock the Book Summer Read 2013 program.
  • That the district media review and selection process be reviewed and strengthened to ensure that this type of inappropriate and profane material is not made available to our children in our schools.
  • That the author of the book, Rainbow Rowell, not be allowed to meet with our children on school property or as part of any school sponsored or endorsed event, as we cannot condone the promotion of this type of material by an adult to minors.

  • Tom Heidemann, Chair
    (District One - Anoka, Andover, Ramsey and Coon Rapids)
    - 763-506-4795 (voicemail)
  • Bill Harvey, Director
    (District Three - Coon Rapids, Champlin and Dayton)
    - 763-506-1002 (Supt.'s admin assistant)
  • Michael Sullivan, Treasurer
    (District Four - Andover, Ham Lake, Nowthen, Oak Grove and Ramsey)
    - 763-506-5847
    - 763-506-1002 (Supt.'s admin assistant)
  • Dr. Scott Wenzel, Clerk
    (District Five - Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids and Fridley)
    - 763-433-4151
    - 763-506-1002 (Supt.'s admin assistant)
  • Jeff Simon, Director
    (District Six - Coon Rapids and Andover)
    - 763-506-7742
    - 763-506-1002 (Supt.'s admin assistant)

 

  • Please inform any district families or residents you may know about this issue as we need people to take action and contact the school board and district staff to get this issue addressed and additional safeguards in place to ensure that this doesn't continue to happen.

    We have put together a one-page Info Sheet that you can either download and e-mail to them (see PDF below) or you can copy this link text (just what is bold)

    http://palah.squarespace.com/storage/post-images/Info%20Sheet%20-%20130807%20v1_1.pdf

    and paste the link in an e-mail so they can just link to it.

    Info Sheet - Was Your Child One of the Hundreds Exposed (PDF 298KB)

    We urgently need to get this material out of our high school and middle school libraries.
  • Read the additional facts below for even more information about this book and its use in the Anoka-Hennepin school district.

 

OTHER FACTS:

  • After a review of each school's online media center catalog (for both middle schools and high schools) it was determined that there the following quantities of the book (totaling 72) available in the various libraries:
    • Anoka HS - 8 Copies
    • Andover HS - 4 Copies
    • Blaine HS - 33 Copies
    • Champlin Park HS - 18 Copies
    • Coon Rapids HS - 8 Copies
    • Anoka Middle School for the Arts (AMSA Fred Moore Campus) - 1 Copy
  • The two district parents that originally discovered the issues with the book have begun the formal process of filing a Citizen's Request For Reconsideration Of Any Media Item with the Anoka-Hennepin school district.  An explanation of the media selection and challenge process can be found here.  The process calls for a review committee of parents and district staff to be assembled to review the material in question.  However, because this process requires staff who are currently out on summer vacation it cannot fully begin until after the new school year starts.
  • According to a posting originally on the Blaine HS Facebook page (click here for screen shot), as part of the Rock the Book Summer Read 2013 program and as a reward for the kids who participated, the author Rainbow Rowell will be meeting with the kids on Thursday October 10th (tentatively) at Anoka High School.  It apprears that this information has since been scrubbed from their Facebook page though we do not know if that was done to hide the formal involvement of the media center specialists and the fact that the event was planned to happen or because they are reconsidering the wisdom of participating in such an event given the inappropriate nature of the book.
  • According to Anoka-Hennepin district staff the book was reviewed and approved for use in the district school libraries and for the Rock the Book Summer Read program by the five high school media specialists (librarians) who oversee the program.
  • Anoka-Hennepin district staff estimate that there were between 175 and 250 high school students that participated in the A-H Rock the Book Summer Read 2013 program.  Some high schools have records via sign-up sheets that the kids filled out in order to participate but others were less formal and don't have records of the individual participants.
  • Of the 72 copies of the book available in the A-H school libraries a total of 57 of the books are currently checked out (as of 8/8/13) meaning that at least another 57 students have been exposed to the extreme profanity and inappropriate subject matter.

 *** STATUS UPDATES ***

  • 8/19/13 - After a review by the The Anoka County Library Board of the appropriateness of their support of author Rainbow Rowell's visit to the Anoka High School to meet with students who participated in the A-H High School Rock the Book Summer Read 2013,  the author's visit was cancelled.  You can read a copy of the Anoka County Library Board meeting minutes here.  The information pertinent to the cancellation of the author's visit can be found on page 18.

  • 8/21/13 - A Letter to the Editor titled "Stunned by Book Choice" was published by ABC Newspapers.  Read it here...

  • 8/22/13 - Tom Steward at Watchdog.org published an article about the book and its controversy in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.  Read it here...
  • 8/26/13 - Several district parents and residents spoke at the school board meeting requesting that the school board take action to remove the book Eleanor & Park.  A video replay of the school board meeting can be see here.  You can jump to the section of the video called "5. Communications, Delegations & Petitions" which is the section containing the public comments.
  • 9/19/13 - An article about the issue was written up in ABC Newspapers.  Read it here...