Op-ed: Someone has to say, 'Enough.'

In response to the recent discussions and articles regarding Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” I would like to offer the following comments.

I would like to thank Holly Ciotti for her articulate presentation of the reasons “In Cold Blood” should appear on the Advanced Placement reading list for juniors in high school, as well as express my highest regard for her role in the lives of her students.

I am equally grateful to her for her understanding of the role of the Glendale Unified Board of Education in the lives of all of our students. Hers is to propose and ours is to thoughtfully deliberate.

I hope everyone who has shared in the discussion will appreciate my enjoyment of the delectable irony surrounding the issue when I tell you that the book long resided on the shelves of at least two of our high school libraries.

There has never been a suggestion that we ban, burn, censor or remove the book from those shelves. The question has simply been about adding the book to a reading list. To make the irony more droll, you should know that the book was already included on the summer reading list for AP English students.

When school board members make decisions, I think at least three things come into play: first, our personal experiences, which give rise to our individual judgment; second, our ability to listen to our community; and third, our individual core values.

With regard to personal experience and in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit to being very sensitive about gun violence. Our youngest daughter is a peace officer. In the course of her making a routine stop for a traffic violation, the driver exited his car and opened fire on her with an AK-47. Needless to say, we are grateful that she did not become a gun violence statistic.

With regard to listening to my community, the overwhelming majority of PTA members, parents, grandparents and residents who spoke to me said that our students were exposed to too much violence — in their real lives, in addition to games, movies and TV programs.

And yes, I appreciate that AP students are academically advanced. However, as the mother of AP students, I can unequivocally tell you that smart does not mean mature. As a 30-year participant in the activities of this district, I have never heard of a student failing an AP exam because they had not read this book.

I also read the letters published in the Glendale News-Press community forum. One recurring theme in those letters was expressed by one writer in this way: “I certainly understand the desire of adults to shelter their children from the ugliness of real life violence; however, we do our teenagers a terrible disservice if we actually do so.”

I wish all who wrote had attended the Daily High School graduation, where one of the graduates spoke gratefully of school officials helping him get his life back on track and achieving his diploma.

What got him off track? Witnessing the murder of his brother and, within three months, losing his cousin to a violent death. I do not believe that young man feels that he was sheltered from real-life violence. Nor do I believe that the students at the high school in Riverside where a murder/suicide took place, or the students at South East High School where a beautiful and promising young woman was stabbed to death, feel sheltered.

And if I had it in my power to shelter these students, then I can assure you, I would.

Shelter our children from real-life violence? Please tell me exactly how we do that, because I want to know.

There is still that third factor in decision-making: core values. I took an oath when I was elected. I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. As far as I know, the 1st Amendment to that fine document is still in force.

Hence, for the first time in my nearly 10 years on the board, I abstained on an action Item. While I could not bring myself to vote in favor of placing this book on our AP English reading list, I could not allow myself to vote against it.

Maybe I am Don Quixote jousting with windmills; maybe I am little bit prescient; maybe I am Cassandra. Whichever it may be, in my judgment, every now and then somewhere along the line, someone has to say, “Enough.”

It seems that “In Cold Blood” was my somewhere.

Editor’s note: Mary Boger is a member of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education.

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