Blockbuster author John Green is rallying supporters around a high school teacher in Marion County, Kentucky who has been publicly attacked for teaching Green’s book Looking for Alaska in a 12th grade English class. A letter from at least one community member slated to be published in the local weekly paper tomorrow describes the teacher, Emily Veatch, as “godless,” “shameful,” and “untrustworthy,” and calls for her to be fired.
Veatch first reached out to Green on Twitter last Wednesday, telling him she “would love to talk to you about the battle I’m currently fighting to keep Looking for Alaska in my senior English class!” By the next day she had the attention of Green and his assistant Rosianna Halse Rojas (@papertimelady on Twitter), explaining the situation to them over the course of several tweets consolidated here:
Our local paper is printing a letter which pulls parts of the book out of context. They are demanding the removal of the book from my classroom even though I gave students a chance to choose a different novel. 99% chose Alaska.
While the letter has not yet appeared in the Lebanon Enterprise, which only publishes on Wednesdays, Veatch’s “they” presumably refers to the letter writer(s), not the newspaper or its staff. Veatch herself has seen–perhaps even directly received–a copy of the letter, and thus knows that it levels the personal attacks cited above as well as referring to Looking for Alaska as “garbage.”
In a post on his Facebook page, Green asked fans to politely counter the attacks:
Please join me in emailing letters of support of the teacher at Marion County High School who has stood by the inclusion of Looking for Alaska in her curriculum. It’s important to keep your letter as civil as possible, even if this kind of thing turns you into a giant squid of anger. To add your voice of support, please write a letter addressed to “District Personnel and Community Members” and send it to the following address: emilyveatch01 [at] gmail [dot] com.
There is a challenge policy outlined on the Marion County Public Schools website (Chapter 08, Policy 08.2322: Review of Instructional Materials), but it is unclear whether the letter-writing complainants have yet taken advantage of it. Stay tuned for updates!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.