The Blue Valley F-List: 30 and Counting

The Blue Valley f-list includes books that contain the f-word that are required reading in Blue Valley Communication Arts classes. 13 of the 30 books are also approved by the district and supported by the current Board of Education. The other 16 books have been assigned or promoted by individual teachers on Communication Arts syllabi, without regard to the fact that district policies state that reading assignments "shall" go through an official selection process, and that all selections "shall" be absent of gratuitous profanity. For each f-book, a link is provided to document where the book is or was promoted within a Blue Valley Communication Arts classroom.

Of course the problem is not "just" the use of the f-word. But if a book lowers itself to this language, the tone and content of the entire book is almost always equally distasteful. Is this how we want our kids to learn? Is this what we want our kids to learn? Does studying the use of the f-word represent the majority Blue Valley patron view of what constitutes "quality literature" or "quality education?"

Note that during July and August of 2004, Blue Valley West posted a Communication Arts IV syllabus with 12 new, non-district-approved, f-word-laden novels. We now understand from Blue Valley administration that this particular syllabus was not used this fall at Blue Valley West, and the fact that this syllabus was posted as the Communication Arts IV syllabus over the summer was a mistake. We are grateful that Blue Valley West did NOT use this syllabus for the 2004-2005 school year. We still have very serious concerns regarding the development of such a syllabus in the first place.

The following article, "How Kids Learn," was the original article written to introduce the Blue Valley f-list. The bottom line is this: Is it necessary to study books with f-word profanity in order to get a great education? Do you want your teen to talk this way? ...think this way? ...write this way? Do reading these types of books encourage or discourage the behaviors and character you want your children to develop?

Click here to read a recent FCC ruling on the use of the f-word, as well as the opposite view of the f-word that is promoted by Blue Valley teachers, district administration, and the Board of Education.

How Kids Learn

Kids learn much more from what we model than from what we say. Today's teens have little tolerance for hypocritical adult "do as I say, not as I do" lectures, attitudes, and lifestyles. They are better than ever at identifying, analyzing, and dismantling the hypocritical expectations adults impose on them. Today's teens want a clear direction for their lives. They want hope. They don't need messages from their school that "life is meaningless and hopeless," yet this is the pervasive theme in many of the required Blue Valley novels starting at the freshman level.

A specific example of this hypocritical approach is illustrated by the large number of novels our kids are being required to read that contain the f-word.

So what happens when Blue Valley teachers require their classes to read books with the f-word in Communication Arts classes, yet don't allow the kids to speak or write using the same language? The message is this:

"These books are great literature else we wouldn't require you to read them in Communication Arts classes. BUT, this is not how we want YOU to write, speak, or otherwise communicate."

THIS IS NONSENSE! How is a kid supposed to intelligently respond to this confusing and hypocritical "do as I say, but not as I do" message?? For many kids, the obscene words get "stuck" in their heads and slip out of their mouths and keyboards much more often and much more easily. For others, profane and obscene ways of writing and speaking become a daily habit. After all, if it's good enough for Communication Arts required reading assignments, it's good enough for me!

Students only have time to read a tiny sliver of available literature in high school. With all of the wonderful, educational, and meaningful titles to choose from, why would any teacher require a student to study a book that includes a great deal of profanity including the f-word? Also, the problem is not "just" the use of the f-word. If a book lowers itself to this language, the tone and content of the entire book is almost always equally distasteful. Is this how we want our kids to learn? Is this what we want our kids to learn?

Yet this situation is currently happening in Blue Valley in book after book, class after class. Click here for a list of some of the great books your children will NOT be reading in Blue Valley. Rather, they'll be reading many of the books on the Blue Valley F-List.

The Blue Valley F-List: 30 textbooks used within the District

Title First Last Grade Where this book is used
Always Outnumbered Always Outgunned Walter Mosley 11-12 CA IV @ West
Bastard Out of Carolina Alison Dorothy 12 CA IV @ West
Be True to Your School Bob Greene 11-12
Beloved Toni Morrison 12 CA IV throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Black Boy Richard Wright 11-12 CA III throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Bless Me Ultima Rudolfo Anaya 9 Honors CA I throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Bluest Eye Toni Morrison 12 CA IV @ West
Boy's Life McCammon Robert 10 Communication Arts II (and Honors CAII) throughout all Blue Valley schools
--current approved BV book list
Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger 10 Communication Arts II (and Honors CAII) throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Ceremony Leslie Silko 11 Communication Arts III Literature Circle -- BV West
The Color Purple Alice Walker 11 for a copy of the CA books used at North high school.
Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers 11-12 Communication Arts IV and Contemporary Communications throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Friday Night Lights Bissinger H. G. 12 CA IV @ West
Going After Cacciato O'Brien Tim 12 CA IV @ West
The Great Santini Conroy Pat 12 CA IV @ West
The Hot Zone Preston 11-12 Communication Arts IV throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Julia Alvarez 12 Crossing Pathways CA class at North for a copy of the CA books used at North high school.
Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane 12
Lords of Discipline Pat Conroy 11-12 Communication Arts IV and Contemporary Communications throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
My Losing Season Pat Conroy 12 CA IV @ West
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kesey 11-12 Advanced Placement III throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez 12 CA IV @ West
The Power of One Bryce Courtenay 12 CA IV @ West
Ragtime E.L. Doctorow 12 CA IV @ West
Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut 12 Communication Arts IV throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Norton Anthologies with such short stories as Rape Fantasies Edited by R. V. Cassill 12 Advanced Placement IV throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
Song of Solomon Toni Morrison 11 Communication Arts III throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
The Things They Carried O'Brien Tim 11-12 CA IV @ West
This Boy's Life Tobias Wolff 9-12 Communication Arts I and Contemporary Communications throughout all Blue Valley schools
-- current approved BV book list
The Water is Wide Conroy Pat 12 CA IV @ West