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Uproar in Ohio Over Writing Prompts Given to Students

Suggestions in '642 Things to Write About' aren't all PG
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2021 2:52 PM CDT
Mayor Threatens School Board Over Racy Course Material
Do teens write with pencil anymore?   (Getty Images)

(Newser) 642 Things to Write About may sounds like an innocuous title for a book. But Ohio parents say it contains racy and inappropriate suggestions that their high schoolers shouldn't have been exposed to—and now the town's mayor is asking the entire school board to resign over the class material. News 5 Cleveland reports the book had for years been part of the curriculum in Hudson High School's senior College Credit Plus writing class. Among the writing prompts included, per Cleveland.com:

  • "Write a sex scene you wouldn't show your mom."
  • Rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you let your mom read."
  • "Describe your favorite part of a man's body using only verbs."
  • "You are a serial killer. What TV shows are on your DVR list? Why?"
  • Drink a beer. Write about the taste."
  • "Write an X-rated Disney scenario."

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The Akron Beacon Journal quotes Superintendent Phil Herman as saying that after fielding complaints it was "immediately" determined the book wasn't appropriate for students and the books were taken back from them. "It is important to note that at no time were any of these inappropriate writing prompts assigned as part of the class," he added. But at the board of education meeting Monday, Mayor Craig Shubert wanted to see further action. "It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom," Shubert said to the board.

He continued, "I've spoken to a judge this evening. She's already confirmed that. So I'm going to give you a simple choice: You either choose to resign from this board of education or you will be charged." The Beacon Journal reports he made the statement to cheers, though it's unclear whether the board could actually be charged over class materials they approve, typically following the prior review of associated committees. A staff attorney with the Ohio School Boards Association says he has never heard of such a thing. As of now, no board members say they plan to call it quits. (Read more Ohio stories.)

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