"Cornhole the ear-c*nt" and other phrases from a New Trier sophomore English short story assignment
The short story “Victory Lap,” by George Saunders, was assigned to some New Trier sophomore English classes last month. Saunders’ story is about a man attempting the kidnap of a 15-year old girl so he could rape and perhaps murder her, and contains dozens of vulgar and profane words and phrases like “c*nt,” “f*ck,” “cornhole the ear-c*nt,” “flake-f*ck the pale vestige with a proddering d*ck-knee,” “c*nt-swoggle rear-f*ck,” and “crap-c*nt sh*t-turd dick-in-the-ear butt-creamery.” (NTN edited in the asterisks - New Trier sophomores were assigned the “explicit” version.)
One parent caught wind of the assignment and emailed the teacher and New Trier administrators. The school’s reaction? Among other things, the parent was told no other parent had complained about the assignment, the parent’s email had upset the teacher, and to only contact the department chair with concerns like this in future. Tired of being patronized, the parent read some of the choice vulgarity out loud and asked: is New Trier really okay with this sort of assignment and how is this going to be addressed? The long pause that followed made clear the administrator had not read the assigned story. Changing tacks, the administrator then decided he needed to talk to an assistant superintendent.
In a subsequent call, the story assignment was deemed a “mistake,” though the explicit story had already been discussed in class with students by this point. New Trier told the parent there are no plans to notify other parents, as that is how they have handled situations like this in the past.
What are the real lessons here? One is to talk to our kids, pay attention to what they are being taught and speak up when necessary. (Parent teacher conferences are coming up!) The action of this parent provided badly needed quality control. Parents also need to let their kids know what standards they should expect (starting with not seeing "c&nt" and "f*ck" in assignments given by teachers).
Another lesson is that New Trier ought to welcome parent feedback, not patronize those who provide it, and admit when they’ve made a mistake. With the emphasis New Trier places on mental health, a story like this could be disturbing and parents should be informed so they have the opportunity to process it with their children.
A third is the need for transparency. Perhaps listing every story on the syllabus could help avert future situations?
You might be wondering, how did this mistake happen? Well, as it turns out, the teacher assigned the wrong “Victory Lap.” Instead of reading about “anal-c*ock sh*tbird rectum-fritz,” the sophomores were supposed to read “Victory Lap,” by Julian Winters, which is about a gay, black teen with a non-binary friend who’s trying to figure out who to ask to a school dance. Among other things, the story mentions the myriad gender identities (based on the controversial concept of gender theory) that schools today teach our kids, and the boy fantasizes his dad will accept his identity and give him a “pack of glow-in-the-dark condoms” to take to the school dance.
Needless to say, this causes us to still question New Trier’s curriculum choices.