Teen Who Filed Complaint Against Summer Reading List Speaks Out

summer reading list complaint

Julia Coccaro is the senior who filed the 13-page complaint against AP Government teacher Gene Ponder and the summer reading list he gave students.

“You know I usually am pretty quiet, I don’t make much noise or fuss,” Coccaro said.

But when she was given a list of several extreme right-wing books to choose from for a book report, with no left-leaning options to balance it out, she decided to speak up. Books on that list included titles like ‘Liberalism is a Mental Disorder’, ‘Liberty And Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto’, and ‘Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America’.

“I was very appalled when I saw it. Not just because of the clear bias on the list but also because of the fact that it seemingly has been in place for years,” Coccaro said.

She states in the complaint, the reading list has been in place for at least four years. The list has since been withdrawn.

When we reached out to school officials about why this was not addressed before, we were referred to a statement Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler released last week.

It says in part:

“ALL of our students need a healthy dose of both sides of political arguments and viewpoints, both conservative and liberal. Exposing our students to different thoughts and asking our students to consider differing points of view is what education is all about!”

Tyler did say the list was not submitted for proper vetting and has told the teacher he should go to the Social Studies Departmental Committee for review of any future reading lists.

“It completely goes against everything AP stands for, which is objective reasoning, critical thinking. So I’m just hoping that this puts a bit of pressure on them to act accordingly on the situation,” Coccaro said.

And Coccaro says it’s not about being liberal or conservative; she says if the reading list had been all left-leaning books, she still would have filed a complaint.

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