Moore County Schools — for now — will keep in two school media centers the children’s novel “George,” in which the young protagonist grapples — and comes to terms — with her gender identity. By the predictable 4-3 margin last Monday evening, the Board of Education supported the recommendation of a district-wide ad hoc committee to keep the book available for students.

But rest assured, Moore County itself is not done grappling — nor has it come to terms — with the types of literature it should make available to students.

In the near term, the decision over “George” will likely remain contested. Board member Philip Holmes, who pushed for its removal and came out on the short end of Monday’s vote, has vowed to mount a new challenge.

“I’ve got a little girl and I do not want her to be exposed to penises bobbing in the water,” he said, referencing a passage in the book.

And with three school board seats up for election this November, a new board could — and likely would — choose a different outcome for books and more.

Whose Values?

School boards across the country, historically some of the more overlooked and underappreciated local government apparatuses, are at the forefront of this nation’s culture wars. For more than a year now, opponents of sitting boards have been turning issues into value-oriented debates on everything from race to safety to sex.

Specifically, there is an outspoken desire to establish Judeo-Christian ethics as the guideposts for decision making. Those who support stronger “values-based education” look at books like “George” as pornographic and inappropriate for schools. They see Critical Race Theory — a subject not even taught in most public schools — as divisiveness and threatening of established norms. And they speak of public schools as cauldrons of chaos, pocked by rampant assaults and permissive attitudes by staff.

According to this perspective, teaching inclusiveness and respect for differences and accounting for lifestyle decisions, health choices and emotional well-being are inappropriate for schools. Instead, schools should focus solely on hard-core, non-controversial academics with curricula pre-approved by parents.

“Our public education system’s philosophy needs a complete overhaul as it engages in eroding what the goal of education should be: to raise our children up to be constitutional educated Americans with Judeo- Christian values,” said Matthew Hintz, one of the public speakers during Monday night’s board meeting.

It all harkens back to a “good old day” that was never particularly good for a lot of students who were left out or ignored.

Reason, Respect Win

No one questions the value of values, but values are also highly personal and relative. While someone like Holmes may not want his daughter to have access to a book like “George,” other parents want their children to be able to read it. Some don’t want their children to participate in middle school sex education, or engage in surveys about health behaviors, while others do.

The student body is not homogenous; it really never was, it just wasn’t accounted for. The lives and backgrounds and experiences children bring to the classroom need understanding, not ignorance.

Imposing one set of values — injecting personal beliefs over best professional and rational practice — restricts learning and disrespects the many cultures, faiths, backgrounds and life experiences that children hold.

School board member Stacey Caldwell nailed it the other night when she demonstrated the duality of the conflict. “There will always be books out there,” she said, “that are ‘too scary’ or ‘inappropriate,’ because we all carry different values for our family.”

On one hand, she did not like having the book “George” in an elementary school but did support it for middle and high schools.

“I think about how this is going to help every child in Moore County Schools, not just my own. With that being said, my personal views on this story ‘George’ are irrelevant.”

Monday was a win for reason and respect. Alas, the larger debate wages on.

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(20) comments

Matthew Hintz

Forgive me Ms. Nagy. "Here" is the thing...not He. I apologize. English was my lowest ACT score. An Edit or Delete option would be nice.

Matthew Hintz

He is the thing you coward of an Editor (Nagy). If parents want their children to know these things. They can teach them themselves. Do not put this on all of our children and Parents to discover this. Additionally, you put your presumptions and assumptions on me and others. This is subjective slander. You and your paper are neither Objective nor Factual. The Pilot is a Left Wingnut rag and just short of a tabloid.

Tamara Vigne

Matthew, if you dislike The Pilot so much, why are you constantly posting in the comments section? Most people don’t read publications that they loathe.

Matthew Hintz

Someone has to tell the truth. So, we speak truth to the left wing lies. Thank you for asking. Great question.

Jim Tomashoff

I don't think you and the "truth" have ever met. You're probably not a stupid person, just ignorant.

Tamara Vigne

Matthew, your truth isn’t the truth.

Matthew Hintz

Wait, can I say " penises" in the remarks? Wow, I thought it would get censored by the Pilot like the other words for being too pornographic.

Stephen Woodward

Education long ago was hijacked by the Godless Left. But the erosion of decency, learning, core American values and age appropriateness is compounded because parenting is failing kids before they ever arrive in the classrooms. And what does that suggest for the fabric of our culture and leaders going forward? We cannot sustain our nation led by gender dysphoric snowflakes.

Sally Larson

Public education is for all Americans, not just Christians. We are a combination of many races, religions, and individualities. Part of being an American is to accept our diversity without prejudice which is what should be taught in our schools. To restrict education based on one religion isn't what public education is all about. Would you agree to abide by the Muslum Religion or some other radical religion as the foundation of our education? When I was growing up we got our Christian education at church and our School education at school and at home we had our parents to guide us. That's the way it should be.

Matthew Hintz

Sally, if you knew history. Which you seem to have not been taught or don't remember. God, the Bible, and prayer were in "OUR" schools, Public Schools until 1962. So, from our founding, through the ratification of our Constitution until 1962 God, Jesus, the Bible, and prayer were in OUR schools. Was the United States Un Constitutionally allowing this for the first 170 + years, before we got it right?

Sally Larson

Mathew, "The U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools in a 1962 decision, saying that it violated the First Amendment. But students are allowed to meet and pray on school grounds as long as they do so privately and don't try to force others to do the same."

Christian prayer wasn't appropriate to force on all the children who were of different faiths and beliefs. You wouldn't like your children to have to kneel down 5 times a day for Muslim prayer, would you? If one religion is allowed in then all religions also have the right to have a say. The last sentence states, there's nothing wrong with small groups gathering to practice their religious traditions.

Matthew Hintz

So why did we have it wrong up until 1962 Sally? Your answer lacks critical thinking and logic.

Sally Larson

Mathew, we didn't have it wrong, the majority of Americans were Christian but the world has changed. In 1962 there were 86.5 million Americans, and 91% were Christian. In 2021 there are almost 333 million Americans and 67% are Christian. No one is disrespecting your religious freedoms here, no one is saying you can't teach your children your beliefs but as I've said before, Our society is made up of many races, religions, and beliefs and school isn't the place to decide what religion is going to influence the children. We have churches and parental influence for that.

Dan Kneller

Sally, here is a copy the “prayer” that was recited in public schools before 1962: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.

Terribly subversive, isn’t it? How does it make our diverse culture uncomfortable? Does it make you uncomfortable?

I think it can be said that since that activist Supreme Court made the horrible decision to ban prayer, our country has been in a slow-motion decline in morality, civility, political discourse, and world stature. Are you supportive of the rampant crime, sex trafficking, the illegal drug epidemic, decline of family formation and child abuse, general devaluing of life, and financial irresponsibility that has taken place because of our rejection of God as a society?

Jim Tomashoff

"Was the United States Un Constitutionally allowing this for the first 170 + years, before we got it right?" Yes. At least in public schools. You see Mathew (well actually you don't see, and that's the problem) people living in the United States, and under what the Supreme Court correctly determined, under our Constitution (in which there is not one word, which was intentional, about God) are not all Christians. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, and Atheists, also attend public schools, which are paid for by tax dollars. It was, and still is, wrong to require such students, or their teachers and administrators, to listen to or participate in prayers to God, Jesus, and the Bible (both testaments). There's no shortage of information regarding this subject, and the Court's ruling, that can be found on the internet. I suggest you spend some time educating yourself about this issue.

Dan Kneller

Sally, you mention the diversity of our country, which you seem to infer needs to separate people. Perhaps you’ve forgotten our motto E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one. As Americans we should be united by our common values and inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. Stop trying to divide us. Your hostility to Christians and Christianity approaches a pathology. We only want the best for our children and country.

Sally Larson

Dan, if you read my comment, there's nothing that suggests a seperating people. We are one group of many diverse people.

"Public education is for all Americans, not just Christians. We are a combination of many races, religions, and individualities."

Matthew Hintz

Sally. Christians founded this country, most of our major Universities were founded and started out as Christian Universities. Harvard to name one. It wasn't until later as we began our drift to the Secular Humanist Cult did that change. You are not ignorant Sally, it is just you know so much that isn't true. Start with the beginning and work your way toward today with history. The truth will set you free, and might even save your soul. God Bless you and good luck.

Jim Tomashoff

Sally, both Matthew and Dan are simply ignorant on this issue. No amount of dialogue with them on this subject is going to change what little minds they have. They don't understand the Constitutional implications of requiring prayer in public schools and never will. Save the effort.

Kent Misegades

“Specifically, there is an outspoken desire to establish Judeo-Christian ethics as the guideposts for decision making.“ Correction: “Re-Establish Judeo-Christian Morality as a guidepost”, the foundation of the American culture then, and now. Fail to do this, and government schools go the way of the dodo bird. They are fairly well down this path now and won’t be missed.

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