‘Art of Racing in Rain’ Use Upheld in HPISD

Highland Park ISD’s reconsideration committee has decided to uphold use of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain following a meeting Monday night.

The full report includes:

  • What elements the committee voted on (purpose, authenticity, appropriateness, and content)
  • How many members voted “yes” or “no” on those elements. For example, all 12 members said the book accomplished its purpose and exhibited authenticity, but 11 of the 12 voted “yes” on appropriateness. Ten voters said the content of the book was “well presented,” while one voted “no” and one voted “undecided.”
  • Links to two reviews on the book that were used — one negative from The Houston Chronicle and one positive from Booklist.

The supporting documents include:

  • Committee guidelines
  • Learning objectives
  • More reviews from various sources
  • Emails among committee members
  • Community questionnaires from committee members
  • District book list — including which texts are required reading or in classroom use, and which books are used for what grade level

For English II Standard, The Art of Racing in the Rain is listed under the third six-weeks’ unit, entitled “Lessons for Understanding Others.”

The “text rationale” reads:

This book is recommended by committee more for a TAG class (sophomore-senior level). It provides a unique writing style, being from a dog’s point of view, of a compelling story realistically told. Free of human agendas, Enzo is able to see the unfolding human story both dispassionately and empathetically. The book combines high interest subjects (car racing) with family issues which have universal applications as well as deeper messages of commitment, friendship, determination, responsibility, etc.

Under “possible objections,” the rationale goes on to state that “committee feels that these occurrences are not out of character with the overall book or topics to which adolescents are exposed in media.”

The supporting documents link also includes the results of an activity in which each committee member was given three dots to vote three times on their preferred action, such as “confirm the present use of the book for whole class required use” and “determine the book is not educationally appropriate.”

There were 32 votes for “confirm the present use of the book for whole class required use;” three votes for “designate the book for required outside reading only;” and one vote for “restrict the use for certain grades.”

As it has been highly publicized, the committee conducted their review following the Policy EFA (LOCAL) procedure.

5 thoughts on “‘Art of Racing in Rain’ Use Upheld in HPISD

  • November 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm
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    Great transparency by HPISD – major kudos to you. I was a little suspect of the process at first but I see by the 100+ PDF that there is great thought put into the study by the participants. I do feel so very sorry for whichever of Tavia Hunt’s assistants had to type the F word so many times though. Bless her heart!

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  • November 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm
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    Good news that book survived under current review process. Still worried about what changes to that process Dr. Orr may recommend at next Board meeting. “It ain’t [sic] over till it’s over.”

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  • November 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    I respectfully disagree. If you had read the PDF pages carefully, you would have seen that all the reviewers aside from Hunt did not put much thought into their reviews. They are hastily scribbled, have incomplete sentences, some questions are left blank, and some comments are verbatim copies of the “rationale” they were asked to provide. It appears that the teachers and other faculty just completed this exercise as a ruse to give the district the appearance of a proper review. Hunt’s review had the best thought process and took time to complete it carefully and throughly. I presume you used sarcasm in your sympathy towards Hunt’s adult assistant, since there is no concern about the 16 year olds having to read the vulgar and profane f-word so many times in AP English class. And my, my…I am amazed that the teachers can see such a difference in maturity between 15 year olds and 16 year olds….given that this easy-to-read book is not recommended for Freshmen. Perhaps it is the Drivers Ed class that elevates their maturity level as Sophomores.

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  • December 11, 2014 at 10:15 am
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    I’ve followed this story with interest. It’s hard to believe that such a stupid book has caused so much controversy. I wouldn’t want my son to read it, not because of the theme, language, situations portrayed, but because the time spent reading it would be better used by doing almost anything else.

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