At least two parents in West Knoxville, Tennessee, are up in arms over an "inappropriate" reading assignment that was given to high school students at Hardin Valley Academy over the summer. The book at the center of the debate, "Robopocalypse," written by Daniel H. Wilson, is said to be, at times, both profane and violent.
One of the lines in the book, for instance, allegedly reads, "I swear to God and all his cronies, darling I’ll f**king kill you." It is this sort of sentiment that has parents outraged.
Sam Lee, the parent of a 14-year-old student at the school, believes that "Robopocalypse" should not be a part of the curriculum. While he doesn't hold the author responsible for writing the story, Lee is angry with district officials who assigned it to youths. His wife first discovered the questionable content when sifting through the book earlier this month.
"My child is being forced to read profanity. This is not something that kids are talking about. It's an assigned assignment," Lee told WBIR.com. "We want our kids to be civilized citizens and be upcoming members of community, and this does not serve that purpose."
Lee, for one, would like the book to be removed from the reading list -- something that may currently be under review by the district. In fact, Dr. Elizabeth Alves, acting assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Knox County Schools, told WBIR that officials are currently examining how the novel was selected by teachers.
"This book was selected by the STEM academy, so it went through a different process and we are currently looking into what that process was," she explained.
On the district's web site, STEM is described as follows:
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. If you love math and science, are interested in learning how the world works and is put together, and/or can't get enough of computers and the latest techy gadgets, you belong in the STEM Academy. STEM students are smart, motivated, and don't mind asking questions or thinking outside the box. If you want to learn how to use math, science, logic, computers and technology to make the world a better place to live, you will gain the knowledge and skills through STEM courses.
While she didn't want to delve into the profanity present in the book directly, Alves addressed it in a roundabout way.
"I don't want to comment specifically on the profanity, but we do consider the maturity of students to be able to understand, and whether the text is appropriate for the grade level and age group," she continued.
In an e-mail that Lee's wife received, administrators explained that the intention of using the book was to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics during the summer. However, they also seemed completely aware of the potential controversy before selecting the book.
"We discussed adult-level language, and decided that most (not all) students of this age group are exposed to profanity through much more graphic means than the written text...," a message from STEM Academy Dean Debbie Sayers read. "We knew there might be some objection to his, and we were willing to defer to parental concerns and discretion."
Lee, though, claims the family was never notified. The district is currently investigating the way in which books are selected for recommendation. Officials also offered Lee's son alternative assignments that don't involve the controversial book at hand -- a prospect that he deemed "too little, too late."
(H/T: Fox News)