A New Hampshire couple has pulled their son out of his local high school after the teen was assigned a book that refers to Jesus Christ as a “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist.”
Aimee Taylor says her oldest son, 16-year-old Jordan Henderson, was required to read “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” this fall for Bedford High School’s personal finance class.
The book is a first-person account of author Barbara Ehrenreich’s attempts to make ends meet while working minimum wage jobs in Florida, Maine and Minnesota.
But in addition to taking aim at the idea of the American Dream, and arguing for a higher minimum wage, Taylor says Ehrenreich also takes aim at Christians and other groups in the book and uses foul language — all of which made Jordan unhappy.
“He started making some comments about the book and I said, ‘Well, just read it. You know you have to read it for school,'” Taylor told FoxNews.com. “But finally he came home one day and said ‘I’m not reading this book, I’m done reading this book, I am not reading any more of this book,’ and he slammed it down and said, ‘This is junk!'”
Taylor asked her son to show her what was so bad about the book and after he pointed out a few controversial excerpts she decided to read it in full.
“I finished the book that night, I could not put it down because I was just mortified by the take on this book as well as the language, and the Jesus Christian bashing was unbelievable to me, and that it was in our school was just amazing to me,” she said.
One of the excerpts, Taylor points to is Ehrenreich’s description of a Christian service she attended in Maine.
“It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth,” Ehrenreich writes.
Still, wanting a second opinion, Taylor says she asked her “more lenient” husband Dennis to read the book, assuming he would tell her she was making a big deal out of nothing.
“Actually in the end he said, ‘This is a piece of junk, this book is garbage and does not belong in the school. No matter what you believe politically, this book should not belong in the classroom, it’s really inappropriate for their age,’ he was really upset that we weren’t given notice about the book either,” Taylor said.
The Taylors contacted the principal with their concerns. But roughly three weeks later a review committee assembled by the school district ruled that despite its shortcomings, “the book provided valuable insight into the circumstances of the working poor and an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of the ‘Financial Impact’ competency,” it said in a report.
“Even the way that they worded the letter was fascinating. The language wasn’t objectionable, it wasn’t that it was wrong. It was ‘questionable.’ And I thought, it’s not questionable in a courthouse, if you’re an attorney and you say that you’re going to get kicked out by the judge,” Taylor said. “…These words are illegal to say on national TV and radio in this country and yet here they are in this book.”
Assistant Superintendent Chip McGee told the Union Leader that the district still plans to evaluate the personal finance class to see if “Nickel and Dimed” can be replaced with a less controversial book and will require teachers to notify parents from now on before assigning the book and offer an alternative should they object.
But Taylor says that’s not enough.
“We’ve eliminated Christmas, we’ve eliminated all these things because we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes but here we’re going to hand out this book? … This is anti-God, anti-religion, it’s racial, I mean it crosses a wide spectrum of very touchy and very insulting issues to most human beings and I think that even with a parental consent it’s not enough. They need to boot that book out of there,” Taylor said.
The Taylors, who have since begun home schooling their son at his request, plan to attend the Dec. 13 Bedford School Board meeting to ask that the book be yanked entirely so taxpayers are no longer forced to pay for it. They have five other children, including a freshman at Bedford High School.
Bedford High School Principal William Hagen and Barbara Ehrenreich did not respond to requests for comment.
~Want to let Hagen know how you feel?
Bedford High School
47 Nashua Road
Bedford, NH 03110
William Hagen – Principal
Phone: (603) 310-9000
FAX: (603) 472-3024