Old novel stirs new debate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Old novel stirs new debate

July 18, 2003

Douglas-  Coffee County High School Principal JoAnn Danna is making sure parents of upcoming ninth grade students know what's expected in the school's honors program.

"If they are taking advanced placement courses we ask them to read more mature and more adult literature because they're actually taking two college courses," Danna said after the meeting Thursday night.

And sometimes that means reading advanced and controversial material. Recently, the Coffee County School Board became concerned about John Steinbeck's  Of Mice and Men .

A parent suggested the book may be inappropriate for the tenth grade honors summer reading list. They claimed the book used bad language.

"It's working class characters in California in the 1920's, so it's working class language it uses is reflective of that," said Superintendent Ree Zeigler.

Controversy over the novel has piqued o much interest, that all the copies are checked out of the Coffee High Library. But instead of banning the book, the board fell back on a policy that requires teachers and administrators to review the novel before removing it from reading lists.

"The selections are made with a lot of thought and a lot of planning," Zeigler said.

So the book will continue to be read. It's one of many books teachers choose knowing honor students are mature enough to handle the content.

"As students progress through these courses, they often time will encounter ideas that are new to them," Danna said.

All in an effort to make these students critical readers and thinkers.

posted at 10:05 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com