As a former contributor to the Education Reporter, a monthly newspaper dedicated to exposing abuses in public schools, I've had the opportunity to interview parents throughout the United States whose children have been subjected to all manner of psychological manipulation and radical indoctrination at the hands of their teachers. With rare exceptions, their objections to deliberate efforts to indoctrinate their children in the tenets of radical environmentalism, feminism, sexual liberation, homosexuality, and New Age philosophy have met with the same response.
Authors and publishers express "amazement" at "unfounded" criticisms. Teachers and school administrators decry the latest attempt at "censorship" on the part of "right-wing extremists" and "religious fanatics." Hyperbolic newspaper editorialists warn menacingly of a possible resurgence of Nazism. Shades of Hitler and the Third Reich, they wail, invoking the sacred rights of free press and free speech, declaring complete confidence in the judgment of teachers, and cheering school administrators who "courageously" thwart the will of parents. Always the disingenuous argument is made that removal of a particular book from the classroom or the school library irremediably diminishes the rights and liberties of others, as though students and parents are somehow incapable of borrowing the same book from a public library or purchasing it from a bookstore.
Over the last few decades, this pattern has been repeated, again and again, in school districts throughout the country. In fact, the NEA and various "educational" publishers have provided guidelines to teachers and administrators for slipping controversial texts and curricula into a school system unnoticed, and for stonewalling parents when these materials are detected. Is it any wonder that parents are increasingly disinclined to trust teachers and administrators who have dedicated themselves to changing the values of other people's children?
This is one of the biggest scandals of our times, and by and large our watchdog press is ignoring it. Are the newspaper editors of America simply unaware of the conflict? Or do they share the professional educator's conceit that schools must protect children from the baleful influence of their parents? Can they not see that it is the parents who are trying to protect their children from the schools? Why won't they help?
Appropriately enough, the above commentary is taken almost verbatim from a letter to the editor I wrote to my hometown paper ten years ago, in protest of a sanctimonious editorial on censorship that had been prompted by parental demands for the removal of a book called Voodoo and Hoodoo from the libraries of a local school system. Parents objecting to the book -- because it showed would-be witches and warlocks how to cast grotesque spells and hexes on their middle-school classmates -- were dismissed as backward and benighted. Funny thing is, I had to submit that letter three or four times before the editors condescended to run it. Perhaps it was the little note I included with the last submission that did the trick: "Refusing to publish a letter challenging your views on censorship -- isn't that censorship?"