September 18, 2020

A Statement Regarding Book Clubs at Hamilton

Hamilton Community School Families,

We are writing to you today with an apology in regards to Book Clubs. We have attempted to put vetting processes in place, these have failed and we apologize for the angst this has caused some of you. Please accept this as an update on our reading curriculum, and more specifically the Book Club process that supports independent and choice reading. We have received a lot of communication around this topic. That feedback has been both positive and negative. 

From the approval of our new curriculum we have seen steady improvement in our readers; the new curriculum and teaching practices are working. The curriculum is defined as the teaching point and method of teaching (teaching strategies), the short stories and books are tools to use to practice the lesson in authentic ways. There are not specific articles ‘prescribed’ by the curriculum, but it does give resources and places to look for stories to use. What hasn’t been a success is the implementation of some of the tools, “book choices” that have accompanied that improvement in the teaching of reading. We believe that this is where the positive and negative comments stem from and we have been working to address that over the past five months. 

That is why we have decided to pause the use of book clubs, in any class not currently in the book club process(there are also reviews taking place in these classes), until we can further vet the book choices. We will be creating a committee of teachers, administrators and parents to help us review each book that is currently listed as a choice and future books added to those collections. It is extremely important to note that this vetting process will not completely eliminate the diversity of choices for students, but to ensure that each book is reviewed for language and content that aligns with the grade level. There will continue to be titles that encompass the diversity of the greater community and we have processes in place that will allow you or your child to opt out of any title or author.

We have been and will continue to be open to any conversation with parents who would like to speak to specific, individual concerns surrounding your child. As a district, we will not engage in negative conversations on social media or address large scale scathing accusations that are based in emotion, rumor and lack specificity. If you have examples of books that your child has read that you would like to discuss with us, we are open and embrace that opportunity. We thank those of you who have done that with us and encourage you to start with teachers and administrators in the corresponding building to ensure that we can react and respond in real time. 

Sincerely,

David Tebo, Superintendent

The Hamilton Community Schools Board of Education

Ben Randle, President

Jason Thomas, Vice-President

Amy Berarducci, Secretary 

Corla Wedeven, Treasurer

Loren Joostberns, Trustee

Mike Jurries, Trustee

Craig VanBeek, Trustee