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Chesterfield County School Board's Book Review Committee Findings

Chesterfield County Public Schools are among the finest in the Commonwealth, and the members of the Chesterfield County School Board are to be commended for their dedication to our schools.

Earlier this summer, a group of Chesterfield parents came to me with concerns about the recommended reading lists and the age-appropriateness of the suggested books, based not only upon the opinion of parents and specialists, but upon the recommendation of the publishers themselves. The Chesterfield Public Schools responded promptly by pulling down the lists until the school board had the opportunity to review and make a recommendation.

It is my understanding the Chesterfield School Board met this week and approved an independent committee’s conclusions, including the decision not to make specific book recommendations for summer reading, but to refer parents to national lists from which they can pull books of their choice. They have committed to ‘enhanced outreach and communication between librarians, teachers, students and parents about appropriate book selections to meet the interests and needs of individual students’. Although they have decided to leave the books in question in the middle school library, they have decided to review the process by which books are selected for their libraries going forward, including age-appropriateness. The school board also agreed with the committee that, as it pertains to required reading, teachers must provide alternate reading material to students when there are expressed concerns about the required material. 

Ultimately, parents should have the final say in whether or not a book is appropriate for their child, and I believe this has opened a healthy discussion within our community. As it states on the CCPS website, ‘Working in partnership with school and family, all learners will understand, model and embrace the important attitudes and attributes necessary to be responsible global citizens.’ - which they indicate include respect, responsibility, honesty and accountability. I believe part of this critical partnership is the ability of parents to speak up without being drowned out by national special interest groups. I believe we should find solutions at the local level if possible, and I appreciate the time invested by the school board regarding the concerns of Chesterfield parents.

Senator Amanda Chase

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