Board of Election Forum held in McMinn County

Candidates respond to question related to "Maus" controversy in January

McMINN COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — McMinn County Neighbors was formed in January after the local controversy of “Maus’s” sudden removal from the EL curriculum went national.

Following the controversy from the novel “Maus” earlier this year and with elections upcoming, the newfound group held a Board of Education forum Thursday night to hear four of the nine candidates’ takes on the county’s education system.

While the candidates were asked several questions, there was one that seemingly referenced the removal of the book:

How would the candidates ensure the board “is following a clear, publically transparent review process when evaluating and making decisions about classroom curriculum?”

“Board members need to be willing, and myself included if elected, need to be willing to admit when they don’t have all of the information necessary,” said District 5 Candidate Katie Brady. “They need to be willing to say, ‘I don’t know enough about this subject. Let me refer to people who know more about it. Let me talk to the teachers, let me talk to the parents. Let me talk to curriculum specialists. Let me get as much information as I can before making this huge nuclear decision.'”

“The reason why it was a controversy was it caught so many of us off guard and we found out about it overnight,” said District 3 Candidate Colby Pilkey. “The point is that none of us knew about it. That would be the first thing I would want to do is [communicate] with those people before I make any type of decision about controversy.”

“If a policy is not being followed, I’m going to communicate with the superintendent if I’m on the board at the next board meeting,” said District 4 Candidate Ken Armstrong.

“I would go through the procedure and make sure that we were following the procedure,” said District 5 Candidate Vince Brown. “That’s pretty straightforward. It’s written here in front of us. And in the end, if the result is the same, the result’s the same. But the procedure’s followed.”

While none of the candidates directly mentioned the name of the book, Brown said the procedure of suddenly removing controversial material should be “the last thing we should do.”

Additionally, all four candidates called the schools’ children the school’s ambassadors.

The polls open in McMinn County on May 3.

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