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How Did ‘Porn’ Get on Emmaus Summer Reading List?

Two parents ask East Penn Board of School Directors at Monday night's meeting how 'pornographic' books wound up on Emmaus High School's Optional Summer Reading List.

Two Emmaus High School parents came before the East Penn Board of School Directors Monday night to ask the board what it is going to do about the “pornographic” book selections on the optional summer reading list.

Paula Wittman, 560 Broad St., addressed the board along with Jeff Lotte of the same address. The books triggering their alarm are Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” which is on the 10th grade list, and “Prep,” a 9th-grade selection written by Curtis Sittenfeld.

The , although they include graphic sexual and drug-related content.

In particular, Wittman, who did the talking for the pair while Lotte handed out photocopied passages from the books, raised red flags about the appropriateness of a passage in “Prep” that graphically describes an underage girl engaging in oral sex and a section of “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” that talks about “a drug-and-alcohol-induced gang bang."

Wittman said: “The school board and administration owe the public an explanation on how pornographic material can be shown to our children. We want to know who approved this book being on the list, who is going to accept the responsibility for this and is someone going to review the list and remove the pornography?

At the end of the meeting, when it came time to address new business, School Director Julian Stolz expressed his concern with the summer reading selections, asking superintendent Thomas Seidenberger some of the very same questions raised by Wittman.

“I am taken aback and kind of surprised that we would have anything like this on the suggested reading list,” Stolz told Seidenberger, “and I would just ask what is the process of getting something like this on the suggested reading list?”

Seidenberger responded that one of the two books that Wittman is concerned about was actually challenged at his very first East Penn School Board meeting five years ago. (After the meeting, board president Charles Ballard confirmed that Seidenberger had been referring to Wolfe’s “Acid Test.”)

“These are probably parents that haven’t been down this street before,” Seidenberger responded to Stolz. “Staff members make recommendations and look at those books based on a variety of sources, including high school librarian recommendations and whether the books have won awards.

“These are optional books,” Seidenberger stressed. “They are not required books. They are books that students may opt to read.”

School Director Francee Fuller said that she had no problem with these books being on the high school’s optional summer reading list, especially since the books are optional and the book descriptions caution parents about the content.

“[This content] may be appropriate for some students,” Fuller said. “It is not appropriate for all, but we have a sophisticated student body at East Penn. It is no more alarming than much of the content that students encounter with other parts of their lives.”

In the end, Stolz . The board will vote on the motion at its next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24 in the .

Haley September 13, 2012 at 04:51 AM
I just think we should have the right for a parent to choose and discuss with there kids what's right. I'm not trying to get god or religion into that cause it's whatever a family believes in or that individual person be kid or parent. If parents are involved then depending on maturity a book can be taken differently then those that are not mature enough. Yes most people know kids in Ehs and other schools are having sex in hs even as early as 9th grade there's no secret there since you can see pregnant girls go all the time. It doesn't matter if a kid is or isn't cause as a parent you never will be 100 percent certain no matter how certain you may be so the only thing we can do is teach them and be there for them in all aspects of life. You take a book away but you got social media and tv and music everything going into there brain that trying to take away the things isn't the answer its more of having them learn from it and the consequences of the choices one that with what the subject may be. A books a book yet you can see worse stuff on tv regular none paid cable and seeing how awhile back we had that story about that website with nude photos of the hs girls on it it seems the current generation of kids need a good wake up call when it comes to life cause obviousy parents are not working for some
David Stern September 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM
If I were 15, and I saw the uproar over these books, the first thing I would have done would be to scrape together my pennies and run down to the used book store to buy a copy (or download it). Thanks for pointing out to bright, inquisitive students the exact kind of books that will interest them. My reading list, when I was 15, was The Magus, by John Fowles, The Brothers Karamazov and something called The Romance of Lust, which was a real 19th century pornographic book. My father found it and took it away from me, but I think he was secretly happy that I was a normal, teenage boy. I had read Electric Koolaid Acid Test two years before, because one of it's protagonists was Neil Cassidy, of whom Kerouac wrote about. I had read all of Kerouac when I was 12. So, anyone who thinks that an 18 year old is not ready for this stuff has forgotten what it was to be 18.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
No one says an 18 year old can't read this "literature", and I use the term loosely. Since when does reading pornographic material make a"normal boy" Obviously the word "normal" is a reader of pornography! And as to bringing religion into this, if this is appropriate reading material, take it to church and share it. Why is it said that teen brains are impulsive? 18 sure read it , 14-17 not mature enough , even physicians say that a teens hormones are racing through their bodies , why would we as parents and teachers encourage their reading these things. Want to teach your children, use materials from a physician not a book that can not be used as a teaching tool . After all do you want to sit and talk to your child about oral sex, gang banging and drugs, are you going to share your experience with these things with your children? Or, can you share a beautiful experience! I guess your choice whether you view pornography with your child or not!
Haley September 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Well I say leave religion out of it cause my views towards religion for me is let my kid believe whatever he wants since me personally doesn't believe in any of that crap from personal experiences. Religion has nothing to do with the books unless you let a church tell you what you can and can not read or watch on tv which for me personally sounds alot like the churches back in the past where they would hang you if you got caught doing something against there word. Noone can say that 18 is mature and 17 isn't or below since I feel that it's up to the parent to figure out if there child is. If I have a kid who is 17 or 16 and her friends have sex but she doesn't and I feel he hasn't and is an honor student and never does anything bad that I know about and understands things then I would let her read what she wants then if I had someone who was a wild girl who I knew was partying with friends and stuff since we all were young so there def are times when I'm sure the kids have done something we wouldn't be happy about without knowing. This board is becoming so aggressive almost where some are sounding like those people Who would burn books and stuff compared to people Who like freedom of speech and media and literature. You can be as uptight as you want that's your giving right and everyone's few is correct and incorrect since noone can say ones the right path or not.
Haley September 13, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Chances are your kids prolly have done something sexual, drank, partied, master*****, whatever the point is as a parent there always will be times are kids can do something and we don't know. We try to know so instead of being strict and locking them down from the world I feel we should discuss more and be involved more but let them make the right choices. If my kids got pressured into drugs and they say no I feel I did a good job then if I tried to be strict and not let them rea or watch a show and them wanna try something they saw. Discuss with them what's happening and the negative impact it has. You can't really win in today's age since they go to school and talk to friends about everything you don't want to. I heard from a girl that some girls sit and talk about sex or who's losing it soon or boys ask for photos of girls and it spreads around even good girls that haven't done anything wrong take one cause they like a guy. It's a sad world a parent can't be everywhere but we sure can be involved and discuss things more then ban them outright like books and tv.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
well believe it or not what you said just proves exactly what I said! By accepting that your child will have probably already had sex, reading a book suggested by school As optional reading is not a correct way to introduce sex to your child. Discussing sex with proper materials is. By talking to my child about how beautiful sex can be is a lot better than discussing how ta book talks about oral sex. No one but you said anything about burning books, we are just saying use common sense, which is sorely lacking today.And again should we accept without question our Children learning about sex from uninformed children. I think not, that is where (our) jobs as patents comes in. As far as church, not one person here said we choose a church for our teens, except one person. Uptight, no concerned about morales, yes!
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 05:03 PM
*a*. *parent*
David Stern September 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Children will learn about sex according to their nature and parents upbringing. My parents were neither liberal nor repressive in discussing sex. What they taught me about was responsibility. Because of these lessons, somehow I got through the minefield of being a teenager without permanent harm. As a teenage boy, I was supremely interested in sex. Anyone who thinks that this is not "normal" for a teenage boy is not privy to the world of teenage boys. It permeated every decision we made, from our friends to our sports, the cars we wanted (we couldn't actually afford them in those days) and certainly our conversation. To temper these natural inclinations that every boy has(and probably girl. I am not one of them, but my wife will attest to her rampant interest in the subject as a teenager), we have to teach children the consequences of sex. And, actually, the lives of Ken Kesey, Neil Cassidy and many of the other characters in Electric Kool Aid Acid Test are good studies in how not to live your life. Ken Kesey ruined his talent and Neil Cassidy died alone somewhere in Mexico. The scenes in the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test are explicit but they are not pornographic. There is quite a difference. The purpose of these scenes is illustrative. As long as parents are made aware that what is printed in the book may counter their personal beliefs, I see no value in removing an important book from the reading list.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Having been "privyl" to the world of boys through my four sons, I can say that it is perfectly normal to have sexual feelings and is quite healthy. How they choose to express those feelings, can be a concern. As a mother of two daughters, I am "privy" to their feelings also. None of my children are or we're afraid to discuss anything with me. They know I am their parent, not a friend and respect my feelings as I respect theirs. Teaching children is the job of a parent, consequences are also taught by the parent. I have a personal belief that it should not come from a book that people feel is an important teaching tool. Your own life's experiences are a great teaching tool, discussing another teens experience and how it affects your child is another. When my children were mature enough to choose their books they did so. Which is what most parents here are saying they did, chose not to let them read the offensive material. At some point we as parents must accept the morality of our children. Being "privy" is every reason to teach our children right from wrong. What can be beautiful or what could be a devastating experience as the emotions involved in sex also run high. I grew up in the seventies, I have plenty to discuss with my children.
David Stern September 13, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Linda, I am not sure if we were classmates. I graduated from Emmaus in 74. So, we are of the same generation with the same influences. We processed them differently, because of our differing life filters. Boys are certainly not going to learn about sex from their parents. There is no possible way a 15 year can discuss his feelings, actions, wants and desires with his parents. I would suggest that any teenager and parent who can have these conversations has an unhealthy relationship. What children need are guidelines to sort our these feelings, as they will get their knowledge on their own initiative, through books, magazines, friends, and the back seat of Dad's old Chevrolet with the cute new girl who just came from Philadelphia. Nothing intrigued us more as teenagers than movies and books that were forbidden. The reality was almost always far tamer than our imaginations. So, the question before us is: Should a school suggest only books that have a sexual or drug taking subject matter that is at the lowest end of students experience, the highest end or somewhere in the middle. As a student at Emmaus in 1974, I can assure that drugs, normal sex and alcohol were at the middle of the spectrum. To only suggest books that ignored these subject would have been highly irrelevant to us, as students. .Children are not raised on a diet of A Tale of Two Cities and the Scarlet Letter.
Haley September 13, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I agree with David the world is a different place now and regardless of what someone says about the matter the fact remains kids will learn about sex from school with there classmates and interactions in there generation. Sure every kid knows about sex and all the basics but I highly doubt the norm is talking to your daughter about oral or anal or anything like that. Those things are learned from other classmates and in media and Internet. If that's the case then I feel a book which has words not pictures wouldn't really change much if the kid already knows what that subject matter involves. Kids these days know more about sex then parents and detailed things since they are more up to date with the world and what's happening since they are connected to everything like social media and friends and such. A book is like a tv show yes a parent can decide what's appropriate for there child but if a child has an impulse either sexually or in a book no parent can stop that just try and slow it down so I say let kids read books they can relate to long as they actually understand what's going on in them and the consequences of what happens involving the subject matter
Haley September 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Try 50 shades of grey a very popular book but very sexual you have teens reading that book in hs for leisure to some that's shocking but it doesn't even compare to the fact that our kids already know about everything in that book and it doesn't shock them. A pregnant teen is like a fashion statement now with media and all so it's sad to know that's what things have become. We can guide them and help then as much as we can but sooner or later the kids will do what they want and make there own mistakes
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Air Force town upstate New York , a father or mother talking to their child as being unhealthy, wow hope you don't just let your child read about sex or learn from friends or just grope their way through. A farther discussing sex with his son or a mother with her daughter is far from unhealthy. As for the books I can only say all our conversations are just that with each of us having our own opinions and the school district having the final say!
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 06:33 PM
*father*
Jeff Lotte September 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
To the writer of this article, I want to know why you felt the need to post my physical address on this article but did not bother to post the addresses of the other people who are involved in your report. Seidenberger, Ballard, Fuller, or Stolz do not have their addresses listed behind their names and I would appreciate your reasoning for this. Not that it is a big deal, I can fully protect my home, just hope I don't have the need.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 07:00 PM
We can teach by our mistakes, hope our kids learn from it, to spare them the pain. As for oral or anal sex obviously it has been around for a long time, not everyone does it. A pregnant teen, it then becomes societies problem with welfare etc. As for the world being a different place you're correct back in the seventies we had Woodstock ,Joplin,Hendrix ,Morrison perfect examples to teach our children of lives wasted. Didn't seem that then, but now it does. Much said about 50 shades of grey, if adult feels that's fine for their child, go for it. My and I state my opinion, is open communication with my children . The school will do what the school will do. I for one will let my child be a child as long as he needs to, there is plenty of years left in his life to be an adult.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Jeff I surely would hope you don't have the need to. I wonder why they did publish your address. Emmaus would have been fine. I'm sure it is just something that is done and maybe should be discussed with the author of article. Lord knows we can have some discussions on here. :)
David Stern September 13, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Linda, I am also a military brat. I have this hilarious vision of going to my father for a father/son talk when I was 16. I was already on tour with a rock band. Here is how that conversation might have gone: Me: "Dad, last night after the show, two girls came up and want to go together to their house. I liked the one, and really wanted to be with her, but didn't find the other attractive. I am intrigued about the whole threesome thing, but want them both to be hot." Dad: "And what did you say there phone number was?" Or, what sort of conversation are you going to have with your gay son or daughter? "Dad, which girl should I date? The one with the 84 piercings in her face and mohawk, or the one who looks like Chaz Bono?" Believe me, you can not have a real conversation with your child. They will only let you in to 5% of their world.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 07:22 PM
maybe in your world . Thank God not everyone has such a difficult time discussing anything with their Children. Let yours learn from back seats, magazines, books etc. as for me I will guide my children and discuss the way they should be respectful while living in my home and how they would want their sons or daughters to be treated.
David Stern September 13, 2012 at 08:23 PM
This is naivety. Your children are learning about sex from all those sources and they are feeding you dribs and drabs, to make you think you are in the loop. We all played this game. Tell your parents a little bit, so that they don't really know what's going on. My children are not unsophisticated. One is a college professor and the other is a in the entertainment business and working on the latest Scorsese movie. The moral and ethical choices that they were faced with at age 15 were not for parental discussion. That would have involved betrayal of friends, and insecurities they would be unwilling to discuss and forcing us, as parents to tell them to do things we, in fact, were guilty of. It would have turned all of us into hypocrites, and children despise hypocrites. My children knew the guidelines.-- Don't make mistakes that are irrevocable. Honor all commitments. Consider the lives and reputation of your parents. Make the people who love you proud of you. Every day after school, every weekend, every summer vacation, they were confronted with real world test of their ethical precepts and applied them. It seems to have worked. There are 1000 details of my life my parents wouldn't have wanted to know, and it is the same with my children. To get closer impinges on the privacy due to anyone. But, back to the central point. As long as parents know that the books exceed their family guidelines, why restrict the choice of others, when reading is voluntary?
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Do you know my children?
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Unless you know my children, how they were raised you can't say what they tell or don't tell me. Since you are taking it upon yourself to speak for all children everywhere, it must be wonderful to have that power to do so. There are rules in a home, not a house but a home, as long as you are a minor or adult living in this home, it's not your room it's ours. There is privacy and minors have a limited amount. As children become parents they also want to direct and protect their children. The point of the books, no one wants to stop anyone who doesn't care if their children read them. But I do believe in Having the right to say , I don't agree with it and if your child wants to discuss it, I know it won't be with My child because my child is strong enough in himself to say don't want to hear it.
careless fills September 13, 2012 at 09:41 PM
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/school-official-explains-embarrassing-typo-public-school-sports-165116379.html
Haley September 13, 2012 at 10:42 PM
i feel its one of those topics that will always have a debate...whats right whats wrong whos the better parent. Point is who cares since really we have no control over the actually topic of the books since in the end its the schools choice. We can sure say no to some as it depends on how one parent raises there children for another but that doesnt make you a good parent or bad. You could guide your children as much as one can and still your child does something such as sex so that doesnt make you a bad parent as someone who doesnt guide there children and nothing happens or vice versa. Its one of those topics that there are so many variable "what ifs" that really in the end your along for the ride. The kids have a choice, the parents have a choice, the school has a choice and when you mix it all together you really wont know whats gonna happen till it happens. So guide kids in the way you want but one is different to another and no ones a bad parent or a good parent. We all are always learning even as adults.
Linda Kline September 13, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Haley, exactly!!! Thank you, not one of us wants anything bad for our kids, we all want the best for them. In the end it's all about our kids, and whatever the school board decides is final. Good debate everyone .
David Stern September 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM
From the Emmaus Patch "Last night, staff in the Barnes & Noble in the Promenade Shops told Patch that “Prep,” is also flying off of the stores’ shelves this week, due to the throngs of Emmaus High School constituents looking to read the best-selling work." As I stated, any time bright, inquisitive kids understand that there is something that parents want to keep from them, they will be drawn to it. All teenagers know that parents are idiots and hypocrites who have either willfully forgotten their teenage years, or are trying to hide their own teenage indiscretions. Modern western society has extended adolescence long past the point in which biology determines it. Our ancestors were married, farmers, soldiers and parents at age 17 or 18. Because of diet, we actually mature, physically, earlier, but we are kept in a state of prolonged irresponsible adolescence. Issues like this are not "all about the kids". They are all about "us", our frustrations at a society that has inputs we can't control and our lack of trust in our children and our own lack of firmness and conviction in our beliefs. Raise them right, give them a good foundation, encourage curiosity and let them go. By 15, they are what the are.
J.P. Busch September 15, 2012 at 12:41 AM
God damn liberals! I completely agree, dicka der der. These commies will be having our kids go to college next, the bastards. We need some educational reading, like the Bible God damnit! Hows are kids gonna learn about jobs when they off in imaginary book land, being creative and having their morals challenged by some...Writer! ugh!
Jeff Lotte September 16, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Again, I ask Jennifer Marangos, I want to know why you felt the need to post my physical address on this article but did not bother to post the addresses of the other people who are involved in your report. Seidenberger, Ballard, Fuller, or Stolz do not have their addresses listed behind their names. There is five people discussed in this article, yet only my address is printed here. Do you have an answer for me, or do you just print what you wish and eliminate other parts like most media does? I would really appreciate an answer here, I know you do monitor the articles.
Jenae Holtzhafer September 16, 2012 at 07:45 PM
YES! This thread is frightening. I care far too much for my family to use the excuse, "They're all doing it anyway." As the old saying goes, "If your friends all jumped off the bridge, would you too?" I certainly hope not! Sheesh.
reality check September 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Have any of you asked your kids what they think about all this? Get down off your high horses and ask some questions and listen to their answers.

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