Letter: Mark Henshaw, Leesburg

Editor: In her recent letter, Ms. Francine Works flippantly dismisses opponents of the recent “diverse school libraries” initiative by saying that public protests over it are “nothing new” and that “it is not the school’s job to parent your children.”

No, such protests are not new, and that’s exactly the problem. Given national media coverage of past protests in other localities over the same issue, I can’t imagine that Loudoun’s professional educators were ignorant or naive about the possibility of the same thing happening here. Communication with parents about the project from the beginning was the best way—and perhaps the only way—to address it. But there was no communication about the program at any point, which leaves us with two possible conclusions.

The first is that Loudoun County school officials were so disorganized that they failed to send even a single e-mail to parents at any point despite knowing that a public uproar could result. A bureaucratic failure on that scale should make us question whether the officials involved are competent to oversee our children’s education.

The second is that school officialschosenot to communicate with parents so they could execute afait accomplibefore any public criticism arose. That would be inexcusable. While Ms. Works is correct that it’s not the schools’ job to parent our children, it is school officials’ responsibility to not undermine parents. Public education can’t possibly succeed if it’s not a cooperative endeavor between parents and educators. By failing, for whatever reason, to communicate about an initiative that would grant students access to material containing hard profanity, graphic discussions about sex, and other explicit content that some parents might find objectionable, our educators breached the trust that makes the cooperative endeavor possible.

I am under no illusions about whether these books are here to stay in the school libraries, nor do I support censorship. But if our school officials want to restore trust with Loudoun parents, I would suggest that a first step to restoring trust with parents could be for the School Board to direct that all school library networks be configured to notify a parent by e-mail or SMS message any time a student checks out any book containing graphic content. That would allow the books to remain available to students and teachers while empowering parents to monitor their children’s exposure to controversial materials.

Mark Henshaw, Leesburg

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