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

October 07, 2011

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.

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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.

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