VICKSBURG, Miss. (CBS Atlanta) — A member of the Vicksburg Warren School Board drew criticism for suggesting that teachers use Playboy magazine as a literary source to encourage students to read.

Though most took the comment in jest, representatives from the organization Parents for Vicksburg Warren Schools were not laughing, according to CBS affiliate WAFB-TV.

“It sets a bad example of what we want our children reading,” Shelley Tingle, a mother of three children in the district, told the station. “We have plenty of wonderful literature that we can read our children aside from Playboy and even though she says the articles are good, I would have to beg to differ that it’s just a total misrepresentation of women and its pornography.”

The statement came last year during a discussion of the Drop Everything and Read program, an addition to school curricula that encourages 60 minutes of reading at the beginning of every day.

“I asked her to tell principals to tell employees if they wanted to read Playboy they had to remove the pictures,” former Vicksburg Warren School Board President Zelmarine Murphy said last September. “It does have good articles in it sometimes.”

Though initially met with laughter, others failed to find the humor. School officials addressed the matter.

“In a subsequent meeting in closed session with the board and I, she tried to explain the meaning of her comment,” Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford told WAFB-TV. “She was speaking about reading materials, not necessarily the use of magazines in the classroom. Nonetheless, we are moving forward with the business of the district which does not include Playboy magazine.”

Murphy, who is no longer president, is a retired teacher who had participated on the school board for over two decades.


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