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Special Committee’s Unanimous Recommendation Matters



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The following letter has been received for publication in The Newtown Bee:

Dear Newtown Board of Education,

Thank you for your service.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” I know this is not lost on you as you consider the recommendation of the special committee who reviewed the book Flamer and the book Blankets.

From your discussion last night (May 2), it is clear that many of you feel this is a difficult decision. In some ways this is understandable given the visibility of this issue, the polarization that has occurred and the implications of your vote on our students, parents, Newtown Public Schools staff, and the community at large.

At the same time, this should be a straightforward decision. You have a policy and process documented. That policy has been followed and the special committee provided a unanimous recommendation supported by our Superintendent.

We are blessed to have talented, trained, caring and experienced staff including our Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Newtown High School Principal, NHS English Department Chair, NHS Library and Media Specialist and NHS Social Studies educator who served on the special committee. In addition, we have heard from educators and staff from all our schools and across our community who provided their input in public forums. These are our experts.

My concern with some of the dialogue I heard from this board last night was the dismissal of the recommendations from expert professionals. Your Google research and opinion should not supersede the expertise of our staff. I understand each of you may have personal feelings about the texts you read.

Isn’t that the point of literature?

However, your role requires you to take a broader view and learn from the experts that make up our amazing school community. Why have a special committee as part of the process if the board intends to disregard their recommendation? This completely undermines our professional team, who have already been targeted by some in our community because of their participation on the committee.

Please also understand that your vote on whether to remove these books is not the end, it is just the beginning. As Ms Uberti communicated last night, there are already additional challenges being reviewed.

You have the opportunity to show the leadership you were elected to provide and articulate the policy, ensure it was followed and understand and support the recommendation of our school professionals. As in all issues, you will not be able to make everyone happy. However, that is not your role.

Students are facing real-life situations that are difficult and complicated. These texts mirror those real-life situations. While you may take issue with some of the cartoon depictions, it doesn’t change the fact that these are experiences our students are dealing with in living color on a daily basis.


Doria Linnetz


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