Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


A summer reading assignment has been given the rising 7th and 8th graders of Clarendon School District 2 under the thinly vailed guise of meeting "the expectations of the state (PACT) and the federal government (No Child Left Behind)".

The titles from which 7th graders must choose are:

Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

*Maniac McGee - Jerry Spinelli

Summer of the Swans - Betsy Byars

*Taking Sides - Gary Soto

Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell

The titles from which 8th graders must choose are:

*My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George

*The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

Rumble Fish - S.E. Hinton

Woodsong - Gary Paulsen

If I Should Die Before I Wake - Lurlene McDaniel

According to statistics from the South Carolina Department of Education, there are 270 rising 8th graders and 321 rising 7th graders in the district.

The summer reading assignment was given by letter of the principal dated June 1, 2005, mailed June 7, 2005.

The school is closed for the summer, so students have no access to the school library.

No arrangments were made to allow students to purchase copies of the books through a publishing/media company that can provide them at low cost to all of the students (i.e."Schoolastic", a company the kids regularly order books from during the school year and a major sponsor of school book fairs).

The county library has only 2-3 copies of those titles marked by an asterick above.

There is only bookstore in the vicinity of the school. It is a Christian bookstore.

The closest secular bookstore is 25 miles away, is a very small version of the "Waldenbooks" chain, and has limited inventory at excessive prices.

Ours is a rural school district, populated by many who do not have the means to obtain the books necessary to complete the assignment.

'tis often better to act than react and, while I question the infinate wisdom of the ignorant who gave this assignment and the touted reasons for giving it, the fact remains that some 591 students face a failing grade before the school year begins.

I hope to find inexpensive, used copies of the books on eBay and Amazon that I can donate to the county library for the students who have no other access to use.

If you have copies of the books that you can donate, or are otherwise inclined to aid in my quest, please contact me.

With sincere appreciation, -p-


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