School officials vote to keep controversial book in curriculum

The Traverse City Public School board voted Monday night to keep a controversial book on the 9th grade summer reading list, regardless of complaints from parents.

The move comes after parents of a Traverse City West High School student voiced complaints regarding the book â??The Glass Castle,â?? written by Jeannette Walls.

Jeff and Heather Campbell say their 9th grade daughter was assigned to read "The Glass Castle" this summer as part of her Freshman Honors English Course. And once they got a look at the content, they immediately wanted it banned. Jeff Campbell says, "I was shocked. I thought about myself as a 14 year-old and I just don't remember ever hearing those worlds at 14 years old..."

After hearing his 9th grade daughter use words like creepy and disturbing to describe "The Glass Castle,â?? Jeff Campbell picked up the book himself. He says, "About 30 pages into the book, the amount of profanity, sexual assault, molestation, incest, it was bad..."

The Campbell's took their complaints to TCAPS officials.

TCAPS Superintendent Steve Cousins says, "Anytime there is a sensitive material it is legitimate to ask, is this appropriate for a certain grade level? But I believe it is appropriate to read in school, I believe it is appropriate for 9ths graders to read in school.â??

Regardless of Cousin's personal outlook, the Campbell's concerns went on to be filter through a series of committees. The Boardâ??s Curriculum Committee came up with a recommendation to remove "The Glass Castle" from the 9th grade required summer reading list. But Monday night, that recommendation did not get approved.

Cousins says, "It has tremendous message of redemption and forgiveness. I think it is totally appropriate for students to read and understand that someone could have this perspective after leading the life they had.... it really makes the world a better place. "

But Jeff Campbell is disappointed by the decision. He says, â??Weâ??re not purist by any means but weâ??re parentsâ?¦and weâ??re here to look after our children. Itâ??s really what this is all about; Iâ??m going to keep my eye out as my kids progress through the grades. Iâ??m going to make sure their reads are appropriate for them..."

Jeff Campbell says he doesn't plan to pursue any further action on this issue.

Both Traverse City High Schools have English Language Arts Steering Committees, groups of teachers and administrators who determine which books are assigned to be read.

This is the first year that "The Glass Castle" was put on the required summer reading list for 9th graders.