By Mark Reynolds
Marlboro School Board VP Michael Connors commented on the board’s recent action that pulled two books proposed for the high school ‘Dear Martin’ by Nic Stone and ‘The Poet X’ by Elizabeth Acevedo.
Connors objected to last week’s story in the Southern Ulster Times about pulling books from the high school.
“To call this book banning is absolutely irresponsible and terrible,” he said.
On Acevedo’s book, Connors said “I can’t even say [it’s] a well written book because the author is terribly accomplished; I just didn’t like the book and to have it in our school district I don’t see where this advances our district or our children, I just don’t see it, that was my objection.”
Connors also took issue with comments made last week by former board president Frank Millazo who said discussions about this matter by the school board were done in private, which Connors denied had happened.
“During Frank’s tenure we had dozens of 7-0 votes in favor of certain things and nobody questioned a single thing. So now you have a vote against something and everything is in to question? That was just a bush move on his part,” Connors said.
Connors said his job as a board member is to be fiscally responsible to the community and to advance education.
“I think at this level people should have works that stretch the mind not that enforce an agenda and that was my opinion after reading it,” he said.
Connors described the ‘agenda’ as something, “that speaks to us about what separates us as opposed to what unites us... today we speak to that which divides us.” He believes there are many other books in the public arena that the board and the school can agree upon.
Connors said, “for this to be required reading in school I have to say no. There are works that trump, pardon the expression, this book day and night over and over again. It’s not that I want to ban anything and anyone that wants to read it, be my guest, but if I’m going to spend the community’s money on not only acquiring the book but having the teachers going through [it] and discussing it, enforcing it and digging into plots and subplots and what’s the meaning of this, that and other thing and engage in the interpretation of those things, I just don’t think though that those are our best works, plain and simple.”
Connors reflected on closing off discussion between the school board and the public at the previous meeting.
“I think shutting everybody down quickly was not appropriate in hindsight,” he said. “I think the consensus [on the board] was this isn’t our best foot forward. I want the community’s children to be reading the best material out there.”
Connors said when it is his time to depart the board he would like to leave it better than he found it, “that’s my goal.”
There was no response to an email sent to board member Patricia Benninger, asking her to call on her objection to Stone’s book.