Board of Education settles book controversy in Watauga Co. - WNCN: News, Weather

Board of Education settles book controversy in Watauga Co.

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In front of a packed courtroom, The Watauga County Board of Education voted 3-2 Thursday night to keep a controversial book in the curriculum of a 10th grade Honors English class at Watauga High School.

The book, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, has been used as a learning tool in several high schools across the nation.

After much discussion and an hour debate between two sides of the book challenge, half of the courtroom went home happy.

Concerned parent Chastity Lesesne spoke for those who desired the back off the required reading list. The board gave her 30 minutes for her argument. 

"This sexually explicit book should have never darkened our classrooms," said Lesesne, who filed a complaint with the school system last year.

Lesesne believes the book is better suited for kids in higher grades or in college. She's against the book in 10th grade because of what she believes is explicit pornography.

"It is too sexually explicit for the children in that class," she said.

The book details four generations of a family in Chile across the 20th century.

Lesesne delivered a petition to the school board members with names of 1,500+ concerned parents in the community.

Mark Kent Whitaker, teacher of the 10th grade Honors English course, talked about how only four students chose to read an alternative book this semester. 

She said 93% of students were willing, and wanted, to read Allende's novel this year. But because of the complaint last year she had to put teaching the book on hold until tonight.

"I don't think we knew what to expect," said Whitaker, talking about the board's decision Thursday. "I think we knew it would be close. It was worth it."

Whitaker told the BOE "All of our students have the right to read and learn." She continued by saying if the book was removed from the curriculum they would be opening the floodgates.

For now, those floodgates have been closed.

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