School Board approves “The Handmaid’s Tale” for curriculum

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These books have been banned or challenged at one time. Credit: Grayson McCoy / The Foothill Dragon Press

Jocelyn Brossia

At the School Board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 14, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood was approved for curriculum use throughout Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified). Foothill teachers Melanie “Captain” Lindsey and Brooke Schmitt originally submitted the request for approval of this book, alongside “Woman at Point Zero” by Nawal El Saadawi.

Lindsey received an email the morning after the board meeting, informing her that the board had voted 5-0 for adoption of “The Handmaid’s Tale”; there were no contesting votes from any Board members.

“I was stoked,” Lindsey said. “Based on what Greg Bayless had said, I wasn’t sure if everybody [on the Board] understood just how incredibly timely a novel like this and how much it offers them a satire without us having to teach them history from 400 years ago.”

Lindsey said she will begin teaching the novel at the beginning of the second semester. “The plan is that it will now be part of the curriculum until the kids don’t want to read it anymore, it doesn’t have value anymore, [or] we find something better,” she said.

As for “Woman at Point Zero,” there is no movement in the process of trying to get the novel adopted.

“It’s definitely looking like it’s not going to happen this year, because we just don’t have time, but we’re still considering just sending it to Board approval whether or not [Bayless] recommends it,” Lindsey said.

According to Lindsey, Curriculum Specialist Greg Bayless has concerns about the novel “that have not yet been fully addressed to his full satisfaction. Ms. Schmitt and I don’t share his concerns.”

 

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