Irene Ly: This week’s best and worst

Irene Ly, a junior majoring in psychology, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

In case you missed it, here’s the best and worst news from around campus and the District this week.

Thumbs up:

If you thought the push for D.C. statehood would come to a screeching halt after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election and Republicans again took the House of Representatives, think again.

Members of the D.C. Council were sworn in during a morning ceremony Monday, according to Washington’s Top News. One of the new members was familiar face: former D.C. Mayor Vince Gray.

The ballot referendum for D.C. statehood, which was passed with about 86 percent of the vote, was mentioned repeatedly throughout the meeting. The referendum proposed a state constitution that would let residents elect a governor instead of a mayor and a 21-seat state legislature instead of a city council.  

D.C. leaders, like Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., promise to continue to promote the case for statehood to a new president and Congress. 

“We cast the most pronounced statement for statehood for Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Although we are not actually any closer to securing statehood for D.C., it is encouraging to see that leaders are still passionate and determined to make statehood a reality.

Thumbs down:

School reading lists are attracting some controversy.

Virginia regulators are drafting a proposal that would require all Virginia schools to notify parents when children will read “sexually explicit” literature in classes, according to The Washington Post. The proposal would require all local school boards to create a way for parents to opt out of children reading objectionable materials, as well as require teachers to provide replacement texts for those who do not want their children to read the books that are deemed sexually explicit. 

Unsurprisingly, this regulation has attracted concern and opposition from educators and free speech groups, who worry they will stigmatize literature that has educational value. The regulations also use a broad definition of “sexually explicit.”

In just the past month in Virginia, classic works “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” were briefly pulled from schools in Accomack County after a parent complained about racial slurs in the texts, according to The Washington Post. In September, Chesterfield County also considered removing summer reading list titles such as “Eleanor and Park” and “Dope Sick,” after parents complained that the books were “pornographic” and “trash.”

The bill would make it easier for parents to control what students read in classrooms, and as a result keep them from reading valuable works that they can learn from.

The good news is that these regulations have not yet been approved. The Virginia American Civil Liberties Union has joined with six other groups to send a letter of opposition to the state board, and hopefully the vocal opposition will be heard.

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