Alabama Teacher’s Conservative Summer Reading List Draws Outrage

For many high school students in the United States, education doesn’t simply go on hiatus during the summer months. To keep these young minds active and learning, teachers often provide a reading list — precisely for this reason.

However, one Alabama high school teacher’s assigned summer reading list became the target of numerous parental complaints — and for good reason.

Among the authors on Spanish Fort High teacher Gene Ponder’s list of over 30 books for his AP Government and Economics students are Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Chuck Colson, Ron Paul and Steve Forbes — just to name just a few.

Ann Coulter is one of the more recognizable names here. She has made a name for herself as an ultraconservative pundit who never shies away from spewing anti-liberal vitriol. And these opinions become particularly blatant in her not-too-subtle book included on Ponder’s list, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America.”

Mark Levin is a well-known name among the conservative radio host crowd, first making his name while working within the Ronald Reagan administration. Several of his books are featured on the summer reading list, including “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.” Though right-wingers praised the book upon release, other reviews criticized it as being little more than the reiteration of tired old conservative talking points backed up by “misinformation.”

The most prominently featured author on the reading list — with five of the listed books, including “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” and “Trickle Up Poverty” — is Michael Savage. It’s not difficult to fathom what those titles might be about.

Then there’s “The Magic of Gun Control,” written by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack. In recent memory, Mack came to the nation’s attention for his involvement in the Bundy ranch standoff. After the incident, Mack admitted that he was heavily involved in the strategy to resist federal law enforcement, which included the possible use of women and children as human shields.

Other books on the list argue against taxation and abortion, deny the realities of climate change, cite the perils secularism and the note the supposed dangers of left-wing politics.

While it might be one thing to include some incendiary authors and topics on such a reading list, it is another when the list features nothing but extreme right-wing content. Clearly teacher Gene Ponder had an agenda in mind: to manipulate impressionable young minds into adopting his conservative libertarian mindset.

It is also rather telling that Ponder, as a Republican, in 2010 ran — and failed — to become lieutenant governor of Alabama.

Fortunately, Ponder’s summer reading list has been recalled after members of the Baldwin County School System became aware of it through social media, thanks to parents who shared the document. Officials for the district say that the list was not properly vetted, despite a policy that requires this.

Either someone was negligent or someone is now scrambling to save face; regardless, it is concerning that action only came after a fuss was made.

Just as worrying is the fact that Gene Ponder will apparently face no repercussions for his blasé attempt to inculcate students with his ultraconservative world view. At present, the only outcome has been the canceling of the summer reading assignment.

After all, it would not seem a big leap to think that Ponder brings his inappropriate opinions into his classroom in ways that go beyond a summer reading list. Were this a private school, this might be somewhat passable -– but Spanish Fort High School is public and funded by taxpayers.

Take action!

With these facts in mind, the Baldwin County School System should consider suspending Gene Ponder to review his teaching practices. If Ponder wants to preach his ultraconservative rhetoric, he can get a radio talk show like other failed right-wingers — but he has no place educating minors.

Make your voice heard by signing this Care2 petition directed at Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler and by sharing it on social media!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to create your own petition and make your voice heard today!

Photo Credit: Lou Levit/Unsplash


Michelle Spradley
Michelle Spradley1 months ago

Heaven forbid our high school students, AKA leaders of tomorrow, read anything that engages their brain for critical thinking. By all means let's raise up a generation of mindless zombie drones who believe everything they are told without question.

This is a SUMMER READING LIST. There will be no test on the material before they are allowed to return to school. This is only ONE teacher's reading list, a teacher of ADVANCED PLACEMENT government and economics. Who wants their child to be in this class and not develop critical thinking skills?

A petition against this reading list is a petition against critical thinking skills. Just when you think the LIBERAL REICH can't get any crazier!

Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

Petition signed, and I hope that this teacher gets called out for his aggressive brainwashing/recruitment tactics! Just when you think the Religious Reich can't get any crazier....

Angela K
Angela K2 months ago


Sonia M

Petition signed,thanks for sharing

ERIKA SOMLAI2 months ago


Leanne K
Leanne K2 months ago

Can you imagine how boring that teacher is?? And I bet a kabillion dollars that man is shoving his ridiculous political views down everyones throat while simultaneously scoffing, sneering and dismissing any counter views. Yep what a boor!

Leanne K
Leanne K2 months ago

I would struggle to get through one of those boring books, even if I was on holidays. But 30? It would deter kids returning to school, especially if they knew they had one if his classes!

Paul Carter
Paul Carter2 months ago

The only students who would read this list are likely to be the ones who tear all the right-wing ultra conservative arguments put forward in these books to shreds. Is this teacher a closet liberal?

Karen H
Karen H2 months ago

Deborah J, unfortunately the GOP doesn't want students to THINK. That's why DeVos is in charge.

Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.