This article was an editorial in the Saturday, 9/29/90 Atlanta Journal and Constitution. L
This article was an editorial in the Saturday, 9/29/90 Atlanta Journal
and Constitution. Listed Editors on the masthead were Ron Martin,
Editor, Tom Teepen, Editorial Page Editor, and John W. Walter, Jr.,
Managing Editor. -=Satinka
TEXTBOOK PANEL GOES WITCH-HUNTING
Sworn to champion education, Georgi's state textbook committee
has voted 13-8 for ignorance, rejecting a reading series that has wide
academic support and instead deferring to a load of nonsense which
complains that the books teach witchcraft and New Age values, whatever
those may be. (And whatever they are, they seem to be replacing
secular humanism as the bugaboo of the religious right.)
The state Board of Education has final say in this matter and
clearly must overrule the committee at its November meeting. To do
otherwise would be to let stand a decision that, in effect, says any
goofball idea that can motivate a handful of misled citizens to
protest may have veto power over the education of Georgia children.
Children who, lest we forget, already are receiving one of the flat
worst educations in the country, by many standard measurements.
At stake before the committee was the "Impressions" series of
reading texts published by respected Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.
It is generally well-regarded by educators and is being used by
schools in 36 states; teachers say the series has excited pupisl about
reading in a way few lessons do.
But lately a few of the more throwback quarters of Christian
fundamentalism have managed to get it into their heads that the books
teach "dark" thought and witchcraft and, thus, logic fans, are doing
the work of satanism.
This is, of course, utter gibberish, just the latest of those
occasional damn fool notions that, for obscure reasons, strike a spark
that spreads like wildfire through the state's considerable forests of
Twenty-two of the series' 822 stories (2.7 percent!) mention
ghosts, goblins, witches or some such - all staples of children's
literature since time immemorial and the very raw material of such
classics as "The Wizard of Oz" and Grimm's fairy tales. And some
pieces deal with serious themes - adoption, for instance.
Those are declared "dark," dangerously sinking tads into a gloom
that will burden their minds for life and leave them vulnerable to the
demonism that supposedly is the subtext of the series. It counts
nothing with the hysterical adults that children in fact must
sometimes deal with serious matters and that these texts encourage
positive ways of doing that. And it did not matter with the quailing
majority of the committee that Georgia was considering a revised
version of the series that has eliminated many of the items that a few
activists were protesting.
Charged with the solemn and, you would think, inspiring task of
getting Georgia's children up to educational speed for the 21st
century, the state textbook committee has instead brought back the
book-burning and witch-hunting of the 16th.
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I have a lot of comments I'm tempted to make, but I won't. I'm sure
you can do that without my help! At least there are a FEW folks out
there who are both literate and reasonably open minded. Just why, I
wonder, can't they ever be found in positions of authority? Sigh.
What can I say - write letters to the Board of Education!
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank