Most students groan – aloud or internally – when teachers give them summer reading. It’s less common for adults to kick up a fuss about it.
But the summer reading list for Spanish Fort High School’s Advanced Placement Government/Economics class inspired intense backlash online, according to Gulf Coast News Today.
The teacher at the Alabama high school, Gene Ponder, who ran for lieutenant governor of the state in 2010 on the Republican ticket, told students to pick one book out of 31 on a list and do a report on it over the summer. The books on the list are mostly on the highly conservative side, with authors including Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck.
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Students only had to choose one book, and a few titles suggest some books’ contents are more moderate. “SuperFreakonomics,” a book on economics considered more on the liberal side, is also on the list, but it is the only title with an asterisk next to it. Neither a cached version of the school’s website or a picture of the physical handout explains what the asterisk indicates.
Baldwin County Board of Education President Shannon Cauley told Gulf Coast News Today that she became aware of the issue through social media and alerted the superintendent.
“As a courtesy, the school principal called to let me know that the list had been removed and assignment canceled,” Cauley said in a Facebook post. “He’ll be sending an email to all senior students/parents to notify them that there will be no summer reading assignment for this AP government class.”
Superintendent Eddie Tyler confirmed that in a statement, saying the teacher had removed the reading list. It is no longer on the school website.
“Mr. Ponder’s reading list that is going around on social media has not been endorsed by the school system,” Tyler wrote. “The list has been removed by the teacher. Baldwin County Public Schools has a process to vet and approve reading lists so that a variety of sources are used. I expect all employees to follow our processes, procedures and policies.”
As a candidate for lieutenant governor, Ponder was criticized for his strong language, including saying that the Obama administration engaged in “coercion, intimidation and blackmail” of the states, according to AL.com. His Republican primary opponent said Ponder’s choice of words seemed to imply that Ponder wanted Alabama to secede from the Union.