VIDEO: Parents Concerned When 4th Grade Reading List Includes Books on Racism & ‘Ethnic Class Struggles’


Parents of 4th graders at a Wake County, NC, elementary school were notified in an email newsletter that some of their children would be participating in a book club.

From the Charlotte News Observer:

“About 30 fourth-grade students at Highcroft Drive Elementary School are reading ‘One Crazy Summer,’ a book about kids attending a summer camp run by the Black Panthers in California in 1968. Another 30 fourth-graders are reading ‘Esperanza Rising,’ about a Mexican family that moves to California during the Depression to work in agriculture.”

A passage from One Crazy Summer reads:

​”He didn’t have a leather jacket, but he was one of them. On his black T-Shirt was a dead white pig with flies buzzing around it and the words OFF THE PIG in white letters.”​

The other book, Esperanza Rising, deals with immigration, unions and ‘ethnic class’ strugglesSchool officials responded to criticisms by claiming that the book club was limited and optional:

“[O]nly a handful of students were assigned the reading material as part of an enrichment activity. The books are not part of the Common Core curriculum. Fourth grade teachers at the school selected the books and assigned them to about 60 students to read as part of a book club . . .

[P]arents were notified ahead of time that their student could opt out and choose alternative reading to complete the assignment.”

However, the email newsletter sent to parents simply stated “your child will be participating.” There was no explicit ‘opt out’ option given, according to a copy of the newsletter obtained by Stop Common Core NC:

“In addition to reading Number the Stars, your child will be participating in book clubs this quarter. They will be assigned an additional historical fiction book to read based on my choice. Your child will be discussing this book each week in a group setting with other students and a parent who are reading the same book…

Being that book club assignments will be a significant portion of reading grades for third quarter, I wanted to make you aware of this information.”

Parents were also required to sign a “Book Club Assessment” sheet, which indicated all of the different common core elements their child would be graded on as part of book club.

Local media coverage attempted to turn the story political in some cases, focusing on criticism from conservatives. However, many failed to focus on the real question on many parents’ minds: ‘is this content appropriate for a 4th grader?’

—Courtesy of IJ Review

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