Eye on Education

Turns Out, Toni Morrison Novel Will Stay on Ohio’s Common Core Guidelines

Let’s recap:

  1. Earlier this month, Ohio Board of Education President Debe Terhar said she wanted the Ohio Department of Education to remove mention of the Toni Morrison novel The Bluest Eye from state guidelines for schools teaching to the new Common Core academic standards. The book tells the story of a young black girl living in Lorain, Ohio, and describes scenes in which the girl’s father rapes her. Terhar called the novel “pornographic.”
  2. Uproar ensued. The ACLU of Ohio said Terhar was wrong. The ACLU also invited Terhar and any other interested state Board of Education members to attend the ACLU’s Banned Book Week event today which, coincidentally, celebrates the work of banned African American authors.
  3. Now an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson says things will stay the way they were before the uproar. That means The Bluest Eye will stay on the Common Core text list included on the Ohio Department of Education website.

“We really can’t change that,” Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton told StateImpact Ohio this week.

Worth noting:

  • Despite what you may have read on the Internet, there is no national “Common Core Reading List.” The document that The Bluest Eye is mentioned in is an appendix to the Common Core standards. The document lists passages from texts that illustrate the suggested difficulty level of the material students at each grade level should be reading. The Bluest Eye appears in a list of sample texts for 11th grade. The passage from the novel in that appendix does not describe rape or incest.
  • Although critics of the Common Core have pointed to the inclusion of The Bluest Eye on a Common Core text list as a sign of how bad the Common Core is, Terhar told StateImpact earlier this month she actually thinks the Common Core will be good for Ohio students. She just doesn’t think the state should be suggesting any kind of endorsement of The Bluest Eye as assigned reading in Ohio schools.
  • And, for the record, Terhar told StateImpact that she has read the book.

Read more about this story:


  • John

    She and anyone that support this are simply uninformed, uneducated (as far as common core) idiots after one thing, the $$$$$, that come with this nonsense

  • Cora

    Hey John Charlton at ODE and all the rest of you OH ED bureaucrats – if ODE can’t change what is considered part of education “guidelines” for the state of Ohio and on ODE’s website, then who can? All you CC sheep keep saying we have local and state control under RttT and CC, why can’t you make the change?

    And for all you nut jobs that think this is book banning, why don’t you start screaming about the millions of other books that aren’t on the CC list then too? Leaving a book that is age and content inappropriate off of a “guideline” list for K-12 schools isn’t banning a book. It’s looking out for the best interests of children. Anyone that wants to read it can go buy it or check it out of the library and read it on their own.

    Are students allowed to write, say and do the things in this book while in school?

  • Ronnie Notter
  • Ronnie Notter

    Tehrar was right. The novel is pornographic. You don’t need to read about disaster in people’s lives to know it’s bad. One mind was already altertered by this experience. Countless others don’t need to be, as well.

    • Ronnie Notter

      …but I’ll take it one step farther than Tehrar, who clearly is bound by job security. This book should not be supported.

  • kiki

    I can see why the board would object. On the other hand, there are an untold number of high school girls who are confronted with rape and incest every day. This book is important and should be read by teens because when adults discuss rape it gives the signal to students that it’s ok to talk about rape. By silencing books like these we continue the painful practice of keeping quiet about the violence that happens to young girls.

  • Issy Joseph

    I have read this book numerous of time and it speaks of an unspoken history and feeling that little black girls have been through. I am please with the board decision they made the right choice. #TeamToniMorrison

  • Roslyn Rawls

    Clearly, some people on this thread need to go BACK to school in Ohio. Banning a book does not mean that the sentiments portrayed in a Nobel laureate’s writings do not exist. The idea is to explore, to learn from another’s prospective. If you want, have a discussion about the themes with which you disagree. You could even include a conversation why it is wrong to silence that voice eventhough you disagree. I think they call those teaching moments!

    • Kiz

      Heavens, no–that would be too much like real learning. Can’t have any of *that* in Ohio schools. (Or any other state’s schools, for that matter. People who actually think are too bothersome…)

  • Remi de Lino

    What a triumph for ‘The Bluest Eye’ and literature all across America! For anyone to label scenes of rape as “pornography” is despicable and irresponsible, and I think this woman should be removed from the state board of education for her idiocy alone. Rape is not porn, it’s RAPE. -R.

    • steve66oh

      Scenes of rape become pornography when a reader uses the depicted scenes to augment their own fantasies about rape. Fantasy is a mental tool – for some, it is part of the planning and rehearsal of things they intend to actually do at a later time… for others, fantasy is an outlet, a way to pretend to experience things that they know they must never do in real life. “Pornography” is also subjective – what is porn for one, is not necessarily porn for another. I have a foot fetish – for me, photographs of women’s feet stimulate my imagination and focus my thoughts toward fantasies of massaging and kissing women’s feet. For me, foot photos are mildly pornographic, as are most women’s shoes (anything open-toed, anything that frames, accentuates and exposes any part of a woman’s foot – including many shoes that are perfectly acceptable as professional dress in the classroom). For a nail tech whose only interest in feet is professional – they want to learn new nail designs, keep up with trends in nail shape, learn to recognize and fix skin problems on the feet – for this person, foot photos are not at all pornographic. My point is that “pornographic” is not (as suggested by Terhar) a property of a piece of writing, it is a function of each person’s USE of the writing. I have no doubt that there is someone in Ohio who would be sexually aroused by the rape scene in “The Bluest Eye” – for that person, the scene is pornographic, and it would be fair (and, actually, Constitutionally protected..) for Terhar to try to express concern about how some would USE the scenes in the book.

  • Guest

    The Bluest Eye is a literary masterpiece by any definition. However, as a high school English teacher, I was very uncomfortable with the graphic description of taboo sexual acts – so I CHOSE not to teach it to my classes. We assume that our kids are exposed to these sort of things, but most are not. The content of this book is quite disturbing -there is a significant difference between disturbing a student’s conscience and disturbing a student’s sense of decency.
    Bottom line is that teachers and parents should make their own decision, based on their understanding of their students maturity as to whether or not the book should be taught.

    • Ouvita E Hodge

      No I disagree!!! Parents should be allowed to read the book and judge if there child is allowed to read it!! Not someone else’s decision to make!!
      I find out someone teaching garbage like this to my Grandchildren and all Hell will brake loose! Unbelievable portraying a Pedophile like it’s a good thing! This author is perverted and sick and should not be allowed around children!!

  • Brandon Berg

    I would like the freedom to discuss these issues with my kids and do not believe it’s appropriate for my children’s teachers to teach on the subject. If someone would like to learn on the subject, they can check out the book in the library.

  • Andrew Berger

    God damn pedophiles teaching children!!! Kill them all!

  • Steve O

    ““We really can’t change that,” Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton”– If not the State Department of Education, then there is no need for such a department at all.

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