By Sara Dogan
The summer reading list at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina has come under criticism by the local police union after it was revealed that two of four possible choices for students showcase extreme negative interactions with police officers.
Students who will be taking English I in the fall are required to read one of the four books on the list. One of those options is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas which features the shooting death of the protagonist’s best friend, who is unarmed, by a police officer. Another choice is All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, in which a main character is falsely accused of stealing and subjected to a beat-down by a “fist-happy” cop.
John Blackmon, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3, reported that he had been contacted by hundreds of community members, both parents of students at the school and fellow police officers, who object to the reading list: “Whether it be through social media, whether it be through text message, whether it be phone calls, we’ve received an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list.”
Considering the emphasis on the topic of police brutality, Blackmon noted “There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police? That seems odd to me.”
Blackmon added, “Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal. They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions. This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”
When reached for comment by the local news, Wando Principal Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer released a statement saying:
“I understand two of the selections/choices for this summer’s reading list for English 1 College Prep classes are considered controversial by some members of our community. I appreciate their concern and input regarding this matter.
A ‘Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials’ form has been submitted and the school and District will follow the procedures outlined in Policy IJKAA-R in connection with the reconsideration request.”