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OPEN MONDAY-SATURDAY 10-6 AND OPEN SUNDAY 10–E WATSON & COMPANY BOOKS Chuck Caldwell’s I IARLE 11 t1 T F. 1731 New Hampshire Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009 Dupont Circle/Embassy area Spacious rooms Coffee shop Parking Best buy in D.C. Present this ad when checking in and receive a $10 introductory rebate. CALL TOLL FREE 800-424-2463 read in school. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m not too happy with my children’s textbooks either. Dick and Jane may have decamped to some sunny suburbia in the sky, but most of what my children bring home these days still seems dull, superficial, and poorly organized. I agree with Anne Melvin of the Dallas Morning News who asks, “. . . is anyone talking about trendiness beyond politics? Is anyone concerned about simple literary organization? Is anyone banging the drum and renting his clothes over shabby phrasing, slipshod organization, unproved and unscientific methodology, downright poorly written passages?” Melvin’s answer to those questions is “No.” “There is too much concern,” she concludes, “over ephemeral issues like whether a woman or a black is portrayed as a nurse or a physicist, and not enough concern over whether any child will have the adequate education from these texts to become either.” J.H. subscribers. Their efforts are complemented to varying degrees by the Pro-Family Forum, the Christian Broadcasting Network, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, and the Moral Majority, whose legal counsel for Washington, Michael P. Farris, joined the book debate in a panel at the American Writers Congress in New York last October. To educator Herb Kohl’s assertion that “the role of public schools is to make a religion of democracy,” Farris replied, “I don’t have room for two religions.” Neither does a Charlotte, North Carolina, group calling itself “Parents Actively Concerned An Arm of the Moral Majority.” In a sheet distributed to students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, the group provides a list of DON’Ts. They include: DON’T discuss the future or future social arrangements or governments in class. DON’T discuss values. DON’T exchange “opinions” on political or social issues. DON’T keep a journal of your opinions, activities and feelings. DON’T take intelligence tests. DON’T confide in teachers, par ticularly sociology or social studies or English teachers. DON’T join any social action or social work group. DON’T take “social studies” or “future studies.” DON’T role play or participate in socio-dramas. DON’T get involved in schoolsponsored or governmentsponsored exchange or camping programs which place you in the homes of strangers. DON’T submit to psychological testing. DON’T fall for books like Future Shock, which are intended to put readers in a state of panic about “change” so they will be willing to accept slavery. DON’T get into classroom dis cussions which begin: What would you do if . . .? What if . .? Should we . . .? Do you suppose .. Do you think . . .? What is your opinion of . . Who should . . .? What might happen if . .? Do you value . . .? Is it moral to . . .? These prescriptions are followed by a short list of DOs, which are, on the whole, a diet of homilies spiced with a touch of militance, such as “Insist on quality in education.” They do include instructions for complaining to the highest authorities in schools, government, and the news media if a student is confronted by courses that “have no substance, teach falsehood, force unsubstantiated theories and opinions, or indoctrinate in the Humanist and Humanitarian religions.” Many teachers now tape their own classes in order to be able to defend themselves. The strictures adirocated by Mel and Norma Gabler are more specific. In a study for Texas Outlook, published by the Texas State Teachers Association, the 1981 textbook protests filed by the Gablers with the Texas State Board of Education were analyzed. According to the study, the Gablers consistently protested discussions of non-Christian religions, discussions containing negative statements about free enterprise or positive statements about socialist or communist countries, any treatment of sex education other than the promotion of abstinence, discussions of evolution that do not give equal time to creationism, “statements which emphasize contributions made by blacks, North American Indians, MexicanAmericans or feminists; statements which are sympathetic to American slaves or are unsympathetic to their masters.” “History tells us that certain things are absolutely, positively correct,” says Mel Gabler. It could be a difficult year ahead for Texas students and teachers. A Texas school official has prohibited the reading of Fahrenheit 451.* Students would be well advised to memorize it before attending class this year. El *As in many such cases, the teacher reporting the incident requested anonymity in order to keep a job. Geoffrey Rips is coordinator of the Freedom to Write program of PEN American Center in New York. 17 THE TEXAS OBSERVER