MONETT, Mo. (KY3) – The author of “Dear Martin” is responding to the controversy at Monett over the book after the district removed it from a lesson plan earlier this month.
The school district says “Dear Martin” was removed from an English class because teachers didn’t follow the correct protocol for adding it to the curriculum.
Author Nic Stone says she understands that protocol needs to be followed correctly, but her biggest problem is the fact that the book was replaced by “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“What Dear Martin tries to do is show how racism is experienced by people who actually experience it,” says Stone. “As opposed to showing it through someone else’s lens. Someone who looks at you from the outside and tries their best to be empathetic, but the experience and the empathy are very different.”
Although Stone says “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of his favorite books, it was published in the 1960s.
“The way race relations worked then is a little different than it is now,” says Stone. “The things that book addresses back then differ from what ‘Dear Martin’ addresses now. ‘Dear Martin’ was inspired by a series of true events. The death of Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Seeing these black children lose their lives for no reason really sparked something for me as a mother of black children.”
Monett Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Drake says the book is not taught in class, but it is not banned in the district.
“The book ‘Dear Martin’ has been in our library before this book was proposed in the curriculum and during the controversy and it’s still there today,” says Drake. “Students have access to read this book anytime they want.”
Drake says the district has grown and learned through this controversy.
“It has definitely shown us that there are different people on both sides of the issue, and I think that even with the current curriculum that we have, we need to look at those books and make sure that they are a way that students are interested. them and engage them and get the standards that we need to teach,” says Drake.
Stone is asking parents and students to give her book a chance.
“Be open to reading it first,” says Stone. “If you read it, and you don’t like it, and you don’t want your kids to read it, totally fine. I have no qualms with anyone saying they don’t like what’s in the book.”
Regardless of whether his book is taught in the future, Stone says he hopes other books like “Dear Martin” will be talked about in school in the future.
“It’s so important that kids who look like me, who grow up the way I did, see themselves in a story facing challenges and overcoming them,” says Stone. “And it’s important that kids who don’t look like me see kids who look like me dealing with challenges and overcoming them.”
The goal is to have a book review committee established before the fall semester at Monett. Drake says faculty members will review new books before they are included in the curriculum, which would allow changes to be made before the 2022 and 2023 school years.
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