Racy Poetry In Classroom Angers Brooklyn Parents

CANARSIE (CBS 2) — Some Brooklyn parents are fuming Thursday over a book passed out to their children in school, which featured poems with sexually explicit comments about everyone from drug dealers to presidents.

As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reports, the book is entitled “Streets In Poem Form,” and is a collection of works ranging in subject from Rosa Parks to prostitutes. It was handed out to 5th graders at PS 279.

The author, Tylibah Washington, led a 4-week program at the school called “Poetry In Motion.” It was designed to help students find their voice through poetry.

While some poems deal with chasing your dreams, others address the harsh realities of life on the streets, like pimps, hookers and sexual favors.

One anti-war poem says President Bush “loves war so much he gets an erection.”

While the most explicit passages were left out of the curriculum, Washington distributed a full copy of the book to students at the end of the course. But the raw language upset some teachers – and a lot of parents.

“That should not be in the school, a public school with young kids,” said parent Guershon Adophe. “No, no, no that should not happen.”

The school’s principal declined to comment on camera, but has said publicly that he not read every word of the book before it was distributed to students.

“Of course the school should have been able to review it and see if it was appropriate for the children to read,” said parent Lillian Hernandez.

Washington said her poems don’t glorify drugs or violence, but simply address the realities of urban life and teach kids about the consequences of negative behavior.

“These children need a voice,” the controversial author said. “I stand for them.”

Washington told CBS 2 her book has been distributed at dozens of schools across the city, and she has never received a complaint.

“This is a powerful program that changes lives every single day,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told CBS 2 that Washington is registered with the Department and allowed to reach out to schools – but it’s up to individual principals to decide what’s distributed in their school.

  • LT

    This may be the author’s reality, but she should understand that not all children brought up in urban areas are exposed to pimps, drugs, sex hoes etc. If this is your reality, keep it to yourself and do not use it to poison the minds of others peoplle’s children. This is a disgrace and shows what is on the minds of black women…..BET and videos have done a great job on you. If you were really educated, you would not cultivate these types of thoughts and you would have more dignity and self respect as a LADY than to talk this type of trash to young children. Where is your mind today black woman? WAKE UP for God’s sake.

    A REAL shame!

  • Anonymous teacher at ps 279

    I am a teacher at this school and I am not surprised that Principal Lorenzo Chambers allowed this book to be distributed. He actually told the the reporter from the Daily News, “No one can read every word in every book.” Perhaps though, Principal Chambers can take the time to read material that he is having distributed to his 10 year old students. Chambers has already been flagged to the DOE 2 years ago when the staff voted overwhelmingly that they had no confidence in him. The staff is often complaining about his unauthorized methods of leadership as well as his bullying tactics to the staff.

  • Paula Brown

    Maybe in the future, books with controversial content should be reviewed by the PTA before released into the student body~

  • Brendan

    That won’t allow prayer in school, but they’ll allow this filth? And people wonder what’s wrong with this country….

  • teetotaler

    Would be interesting to hear Mayor Bloomberg’s opinion.

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