Sunday, June 18, 2017

Novel Snip: Close to Life


One of the most fun things about my book project is writing the complaints from parents against one of my leads, a high school English teacher with more than a decade of experience. She's me and she isn't me, but this letter? This letter could very well be in my own file. 

Sheila, the writer of this letter, is a mad parent who works for a US Senator. She's complaining about Isobel's anti-Americanism. Things get a little more complicated for poor Isobel from here.

Dear Principal Wallace,

As you know, I have been an engaged and supportive Liston Heights parent for ten years. During the past decade, I have had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with a number of top-notch Liston Heights educators. On many occasions, I’ve connected classrooms - some of which have included my own daughter, Erin Warner, as a student - with various elected officials. Last fall, you and I collaborated on a town hall event held at Liston Heights High School with Senator William McGuire, for whom I serve as State Director. As you’ll remember, Senator McGuire and his wife, Rita, sent their own children through the Liston Heights school system. I know firsthand that the Senator counts our schools as one of the treasures of the state.

It pains me then, because of my long and happy affiliation with the district, to bring an unfortunate matter to your attention. For many months now, I’ve been concerned about the pedagogy and professionalism of Isobel J. Johnson, a member of your English Department. I checked with the State Licensing Board, and while Ms. Johnson does appear to be properly credentialed, I’m quite certain that her teaching is far below the standard I’ve come to expect of the faculty at Liston Heights High School. I will outline my specific concerns below, but before I do, I want to point out that this is only my third formal complaint against a Liston Heights teacher. That is to say, I don’t take this action lightly. I think, if you’ll review the files of Mrs. Margaret Hall and Mr. Peter Harrington, you’ll see my complaints mirrored the eventual findings of the administration, and neither teacher continued to be employed by the district following my intervention.

Principal Wallace, you may not be aware that right in your own building, Ms. Johnson is infecting your students - bright and open-hearted young people - with a dangerous, insidious feeling of Anti-Americanism. With each classic Ms. Johnson hands to our children, she encourages them, under the guise of “seeing multiple perspectives,” to undermine these timeless works of literature. Imagine my surprise, for instance, when my daughter reported to me that Atticus Finch represents white supremacy, rather than the beacon of justice generations of Americans have known him to be. And now, while reading what is truly a Great American Novel, Ms. Johnson is asking not only what The Great Gatsby has to say about the American Dream, but rather she requires teenagers to question the sexuality and sexual preferences of the characters. 

Principal Wallace, I’m asking you to investigate Ms. Johnson’s methods and sources. I can’t be the only Liston Heights parent to object to a teacher of American Literature flaunting her own Anti-Americanism. Once you’ve concluded your review of Ms. Johnson’s practices, I’d like to meet with you to discuss your findings.

You have my very best wishes,
Sheila Warner

State Director
The Office of Senator William McGuire

Fun, right? I'm revising like crazy, and this is from Chapter 11. Maybe only 7 versions or so to go? We'll see.

1 comment:

LH said...

Love this!

"Only my third formal complaint" = hilarious