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MUSD Cancels Bradoaks Field Trip to See 'The Hunger Games'

A group of fifth graders from Bradoaks Elementary were set to attend the opening of the PG-13 movie Friday, but the field trip was abruptly canceled this week.

Frustrated parents were befuddled by a decision this week to cancel a fifth grade field trip to see The Hunger Games even after parents signed permission slips allowing the students to see the PG-13 movie, based on the teen-lit phenomenon.

The students were supposed to attend the film on Friday at , according to Councilman Larry Spicer, who has a daughter in the fifth grade class. All but one student obtained parental permission to attend the movie, Spicer said.

He was notified this week, however, that the trip was canceled and said he was not told why. He said his daughter and other students were deeply disappointed by the move.

Linda Wagner said in an email that the district decided class time was more important for the fifth graders.

"Monrovia students are presently receiving five less instructional days than they normally would due to furlough days. This, coupled with the loss of two instructional days due to wind makes it imperative that remaining instructional time be used for teaching and learning," Wagner wrote. "Activities that are not directly related to instruction are best relegated to times outside the regular school day."

Spicer questioned why the idea of the field trip was allowed to proceed past the permission slip process if the district had a problem with it.

"If it was an issue, why wasn’t it brought up a couple weeks ago?" Spicer asked.

Asked why the trip was allowed to progress so far, Wagner wrote: "This issue came to my attention for the first time yesterday. We will be discussing protocols for approvals of field trips so as to avoid this type of situation in the future."

The Hunger Games is based on the wildly popular teen novels about a post-apocalyptic society that pits children against each other in an annual tournament in which participants fight to the death.

Joe Black March 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Hey Chris, Start a petition and I will Sign it. From the outrage of the parents on this blog, I am sure you will get many others.
Monrovia Betty March 23, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I think that these 5th grade teachers really need to evaluate what they are teaching. Although the book series is great, and I have read it, I would NOT have a 5th grader read these books. The subject matter is still a bit inappropriate for a 6th grader. Some students are just not ready for this type of literature. I want to know who approved the reading of this book in the classroom. That is where the issue SHOULD have started. Since the district is already in program improvement, and each teacher is under a microscope, how on Earth did this poor decision get made, and then get as far to seeing it in the theater? Poor leadership indeed.
Concerned parent March 24, 2012 at 12:27 AM
No, I think that the parents should not send thier kids to school as I did not send mine today! I followed thru on a commitment the DISTRICT failed on and took him to go see the hunger games DURING school hours, why should we send our kids to school and let the district earn precious state dollars when they are hipocritical on what they approve. Bradoaks didn't fail my son, the district did. And if the rumors are true that one parent influenced this outcome then you should home school your little mushroom! Please explain how PTA monies were to be used for this when I paid for my sons ticket? How about if I go and complain about the MEO games and question the EDUCATIONAL relevance of possible heat stroke like last year? Or how there was absolutly no curriculum for today because the trip was cancelled and there was no approved lessons to fall back on??
Concerned parent March 24, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Get your information correct. Once the child is in school for a certian amount of time for the day. BAM! they get full credit from the state. Good example MEO games! In school ALL DAY, but no education other than sports! So while the state is squeezing the kids, MUSD cannot use the state budget cuts as a scapegoat on this one!
Concerned Parent March 24, 2012 at 02:14 AM
ALL (but one) of the parents agreed to this. They agreed to have their child read the book and see the movie. So are you and Ms. Wagner telling ME as a parent that you know better than I do what my child can handle/read/understand?
Concerned Parent March 24, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Put together the petition - I'm ready to sign it!
Christian Holt March 24, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Just got home from the movies. AMAZING, SIMPLY AMAZING. By far the best family movie I have seen in a long time. So many positive topics to cover with my daughter. We can discuss: Compassion, understanding, being true to yourself, sympathy etc.. I can keep going. I also have been reading Hunger Games with my 10 year old daughter and I want to shake the hand of the teacher who decided to share this book. The bonus for reading is having the opportunity to see the movie with your teacher how wonderful. Its nice to see all the teachers that do more than the bear minimum. That actually love teaching and shaping young minds I have seen more G rated movies that showed more violence and killing than this movie. At an allegorical level, the central theme is the conflicting impulses toward civilization—live by rules, peacefully and in harmony—and towards the will to power. Themes include the tension between groupthink and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality. How these play out, and how different people feel the influences of these, form a major subtext of Lord of the Flies. This also best describes Hunger Games. Lord of the Flies is a novel by Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding. In the 1960s became required reading in many schools and colleges. Thank you Wikipedia. I read this book in 5th Grade and again in High School.
Christian Holt March 24, 2012 at 02:53 AM
I see this book going in the same direction as Lord of the Flies. Someday being required reading. Who better to know if this book is appropriate than your child's teacher not a Stranger who doesn't know your child and probably has never taught.
Jim Strong March 24, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Great Movie. Great Book. Ms. Wagner and Guardian I suggest that you both read the book together and see the movie together. Than together you apologies on the letter you both worked on than have the school board review and approve it. Then you send it to the kids and parents you disappointed. As for Monrovia Betty; Pull your head out of the sand. You claim that you read the book, now see the movie. Lastly, have one of the wonderful 5th grade teachers educate you on what you read and saw because clearly you are not understanding the positive messages. Three word Quote from Monrovia Betty: Poor leadership indeed. That is true being that the leader is Ms. Wagner. I have faith in you Ms. Wagner, make it up to these kids. Visit with them, talk to them, read to them. Most of all share with them your own personal experiences from your travels. Let the kids get to know how wonderful you are and they in turn will share with their parents your positive messages. Every leader stumbles but only the great leaders learn from them. These are new times in education with new methods.
Danielle Corona March 24, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Are the anonymous people going to sign the petition with their real names? You all are funny.
linda_renee March 24, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Betty seriously???
Danielle Corona March 24, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Reading level, and subject matter being appropriate are two different things, linda renee, but, your opinion was immediately disqualified when you delved into name calling.
Stephen McCarthy March 24, 2012 at 03:49 PM
What was not really made clear in the article is the issue of "educational merit." I infer from some comments that the students read the book as part of class, then were to see the movie in school time? IF this is the case, AND appropriate classwork/homework on both versions would seem to me to have some educational merit. Dr. Wagner DOES make and excellent case as to lost classroom time because the geniuses in Sacramento have made such a dog's breakfast of the budget. In my 30 years as a teacher, I was always a promoter of enlivening and perhaps unusual field trips. They are one of the things that students remember the most from, IF they are properly planned and have a true educational merit. If the teachers could not make a strong enough case for this, then maybe the trip is not a good idea. Too often, field trips that are for fun are made semantically educational and are thinly disguised play time. I'm not saying this is the case here. The initial report should have had more depth so that we could better judge this issue. I'd rather the kids saw Bully, but oh,no,in their infinite wisdom, the ratings people made THAT an R while the violence filled Hunger Games is PG13. It's a strange world we live in.
Stephen McCarthy March 24, 2012 at 03:55 PM
BTW, where are all of you when it's time for a school board meeting? I covered the board for 6 months last year for Patch, and unless someone was getting an award or specifically addressing the board, maybe 3 people would bestir themselves from reruns of American Idiot to bother to learn what the board has to deal with. If you abstain from involvement, you are approving the actions of elected officials. How do you think those crooks in Bell got away with it? I'm NOT equating Monrovia's officials with Bell's, but it COULD happen here!
Iamsam March 24, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Reading books and seeing the movie is not new in school. I remember reading Anne Frank and seeing the movie in school. So if the classroom time was the issue, then is it the 20 minutes of walking to the movies? My daughter read the book with her class and was excited to see the movie. The teachers did not get together and say let's make the community mad and have the kids read. They said lets get the kids to read. When I was laid off the last 2 years I volunteered in there classrooms even for holiday parties, are those classroom time lost? She will be in middleschool next year, should I ask to see the books she will be reading or trust the teachers to pick the right books.
Gayle M. Montgomery March 25, 2012 at 04:44 AM
So, this is yet another issue where the rules for the school district are not clear and well spelled out. If these are case-by-case, arbitrary decisions, where one person's opinion at one specific point in time overrules that of the educators and parents, I, for one, have a real problem with this. If, however, this decision had its basis in established MUSD POLICY and precedent, that policy should be spelled out on the school district website and made available for all to review. We old folks need to remember that this is not your mother's kids. They grow up with many stimuli, and many of the things in which they may find value when they are older and just plain BOR-RING to them now (yes, I know boring is misspelled). In order to engage them and develop the love of reading, you need to find things that will equally stimulate them. I remember, when my own daughter was coming up, there was some stinko about Judy Blume books, something I found quite dumb because I read them myself and found them a godsend. We've got to give our teachers the tools to know where the borders are, and we cannot have a school board or administrator who second guesses or educators based on their own moral values. More than anything else, we need to treat our kids as people and stop disappointing them. We second guess their ability to comprehend and, with guidance, to choose the right decisions for themselves.
Gayle M. Montgomery March 25, 2012 at 04:55 AM
As one who has worked extensively with kids through the years, I have found them to be a lot smarter than we give them credit for. In this case, I believe the flow chart should be that a) teacher comes up with an idea; b) teacher researches on school district website to see if it is within policy and vets it with the principle/administrator; c) if approved, the teacher sends out a permission slip that has full disclosure as to the nature of the film and that which might be questionable. Use IMDB if necessary as a referral point for films; d) parents make the decision on a case-by-case basis as to whether or not to allow their child to participate, and back-up coverage is made for kids who cannot go; e) teachers, students, and accompanying parents should take the field trip; f) a discussion sheet should be sent home with each child to review with his/her parent what they observed and learned that day; g) follow-up discussion should occur in class the next class day; h) a writing assignment of some sort should ensue about the lessons learned. Course this is from the former Sunday School teacher who gave her students homework...and they did it!
linda_renee March 25, 2012 at 07:40 AM
Betty, the book is a 5.3 AR reading level. The book is appropriate for them to read! Last time I checked... LEVEL 5 = 5th grade, right? Like Rosie stated earlier "Will book burnings be next?"
Danielle Corona March 25, 2012 at 07:59 AM
Linda renee, thank you for your edit. Again, however, AR Reading Level, a corporate pushed assessment company, does not necessarily mean the content is age-appropriate. It is about reading comprehension. I would not let my 5th grader read this series. High School, yes. Possibly Jr. high, depending on their maturity.
JULIE Rawlings March 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM
It is not a coincidence the field trip was cancelled after a parent called and made a complaint to NBC News, which the district did not have the tact to respond to or give the teachers a chance to respond. What they did was cancel the trip and abruptly change district wide policies. I would be proud of my district if they would have stood behind their teachers, who followed the procedures currently in place for planning the fieldtrip instead of cancelling it when it became a controversial issue for ONE PARENT. If Linda Wagner truly was unaware of the fieldtrip until two days prior then she should get more on the ball!
JULIE Rawlings March 25, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Totally Agree. And as a parent getting my children to read and earn AR points is a challange, I am grateful for books like THE HUNGER GAMES and any other reccomendations from teachers. A Clifton teacher had my son read it, he passsed the AR test and is looking forward to reading Catching Fire.
JULIE Rawlings March 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Any Resonse Linda? Dying to hear if you still think you made the right decision. BTW, Clifton just sent home a permission slip regarding a PG13 movie better run over there and check it out.
Danielle Corona March 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM
What I cannot get over, is the animosity in responses towards each other. Lets face it, we all want what is best for our children, even if we disagree in how to accomplish that goal.
Gayle M. Montgomery March 25, 2012 at 05:37 PM
One of the things Ms. Wagner fails to recognize is how students are motivated, especially at this time of the calendar year, when they get a perk. This kind of outing, done together as a team, would help the children to bond and better be focused on learning. I ride the Gold Line daily. I cannot tell you how many times my path to the train is impeded by classes of school children about to take a field trip via train. I'm not buying the they need more classroom time. For some kids, especially those on the economic margin, field trips are often the only way kids get exposure to the arts and history in their own backyard. Movies, are an art form, especially if tied to literature.
David D March 25, 2012 at 08:50 PM
whats really wrong is that there are almost 70 comments here about a canceled field trip and only 9 for teacher layoffs...something is wrong with that...
Chris Ziegler March 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM
David, I think the layoffs are less upsetting as they are an economic reality of our societal decision to elect leaders that pander vice lead smartly. The chronic censorship/micro management of the superintendent (and poorly executed at that) is just bad management.
Chris Ziegler March 25, 2012 at 10:09 PM
To All: I encourage you to voice your concerns directly to Dr. Linda Wagner and the MUSD board members. MUSD uses first character of first name + lastname for email addresses. I.e. lwagner@monrovia.k12.ca.us and azucco@monrovia.k12.ca.us If our leaders never hear of our concerns then how can we expect improved policy in the future?
Gayle M. Montgomery March 26, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Much agreed, Chris. To my knowledge, School Board is elected, but the superintendent is hired/appointed. Is it time to benchmark what other school districts are doing for frame of reference in such matters. I still say that policies should be collaborative between district, its counsel, and the parents. Once decided upon, they should be plainly communicated in an readily searchable database on the MUSD school district site. There is an opacity to the current scenario that puts parents, students, and administration at charge, and more of this SEEMS to be management by whim. There must be consistency, transparency, and common sense.
Ann Hodgdon March 26, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Just got back from the Hunger Games with my 13 and 14 year old and loved the movie. Also read the books. But I'll be emailing Linda Wagner to thank her for her GOOD judgment. The movie is PG 13, and despite parental permission, the school district has every right to stick to those guidelines and focus on discussing the book in class. The kids will get over this trauma, especially if their parents set a good example.
Gayle M. Montgomery March 26, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I'm playing email catch-up and just read an article in Time Magazine about the decision to take an 8-year old to see the movie and why. The arguments are compelling. http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/20/is-the-hunger-games-too-dark-for-kids/?xid=newsletter-daily

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