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Textbook sensitivity codes function as form of censorship ^ | 6/29/03 | John Leo

Posted on 06/29/2003 2:09:37 AM PDT by kattracks

Which of the following stories would be too biased for schools to allow on tests? (1) Overcoming daunting obstacles, a blind man climbs Mount McKinley; (2) dinosaurs roam the Earth in prehistoric times; (3) an Asian-American girl, whose mother is a professor, plays checkers with her grandfather and brings him pizza.

As you probably guessed, all three stories are deeply biased. (1) Emphasis on a "daunting" climb implies that blindness is some sort of disability, when it should be viewed as just another personal attribute, like hair color. Besides, mountain-climbing stories are examples of "regional bias," unfair to readers who live in deserts, cities and rural areas. (2) Dinosaurs are a no-no -- they imply acceptance of evolutionary theory. (3) Making the girl's mother a professor perpetuates the "model minority" myth that stereotypes Asian-Americans. Older people must not be shown playing checkers. They should be up on the roof fixing shingles or doing something vigorous. And pizza is a junk food. Kids may eat it -- but not in a school story.

That's what's going on in schools these days. Diane Ravitch's new book, The Language Police, documents "an intricate set of rules" applied to test questions as well as textbooks. A historian of education who served as an assistant secretary of education for the first President Bush, Ravitch offers many eye-catching cases of subjects vetoed: peanuts as a good snack (some children are allergic), owls (taboo in Navajo culture), and the palaces of ancient Egypt (elitist).

Back in the 1980s and '90s, lots of us chuckled at the spread of the "sensitivity" industry in schools. Words were removed from tests and books lest they hurt someone's feelings, harm the classroom effort or impair morals. Most of us assumed that this was a fad that would soon disappear as grown-ups in education exerted the rule of reason.

But ridicule had little effect, and grown-ups either converted to the sensitivity ethic or looked the other way. Textbook publishers, with millions of dollars at stake, learned to insulate themselves from criticism by caving in to all objections and writing craven "guidelines" to make sure authors would cave, too.

Ravitch warns that these guidelines amount to a full-blown form of "censorship at the source" in schools, and "something important and dangerous" that few people know about. She blames both the religious right and the multicultural-feminist left. The right objects to evolution, magic and witchcraft, gambling, nudity, suicide, drug use, and stories about disobedient children. The left objects to "sexist" fairy tales, Huckleberry Finn, religion, smoking, junk food, guns and knives, and what some guidelines call "activities stereotyping" (blacks as athletes, men playing sports or working with tools, women cooking or caring for children).

What started out as a sensible suggestion -- don't always show women as homemakers or minorities in low-level jobs -- developed into hard reverse stereotypes (women must not be shown in the home, maids can't be black). "In the ideal world of education-think," Ravitch writes, "women would be breadwinners, African-Americans would be academics, Asian-Americans would be athletes, and no one would be a wife or a mother."

Whites are a group, perhaps the only group, not protected by smothering sensitivity. This follows multicultural dogma. One set of guidelines (McGraw-Hill) "express(es) barely concealed rage against people of European ancestry" as "uniquely responsible for bigotry and exploitation," Ravitch notes.

What can be done? Ravitch recommends eliminating the current system in which many states adopt textbooks for all their schools. She says it results in cartel-like behavior that allows extremists to manipulate textbook requirements, particularly in the two big states that matter most, California and Texas. Opening up the market, she thinks, would free teachers to choose biographies, histories or anthologies, rather than sensitivity-laden textbooks.

Panels that analyze tests and texts should include teachers of the subjects, not just diversity specialists, Ravitch says. She insists we need better-educated teachers and an end to secrecy about sensitivity: State education officials must put bias and sensitivity reviews on the Internet, listing the reasons that passages and test items were rejected.

Unsurprisingly, The Language Police has gotten the cold shoulder from our education establishment, which usually limits discussion to three topics: promoting diversity, reducing classroom size and increasing funding. Ravitch speaks for parents more concerned about something else: substituting censorship and propaganda for actual learning.

©2003 Universal Press Syndicate

Contact John Leo | Read Leo's biography

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events

1 posted on 06/29/2003 2:09:38 AM PDT by kattracks
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To: kattracks
Another reminder of how far we've gone down that slippery slope as a nation. When one spends too much time in here, the cumulative effect of these stories tends to be a bit overwhelming sometimes. I just hope that we have enough guts to get down and do the hard job of eliminating those on the left - not only in politics, but everywhere.
2 posted on 06/29/2003 3:08:28 AM PDT by 11B3 (We live in "interesting times". Indeed.)
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To: 11B3
Don't lose hope, in general kids like old stories, "And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" or "Where the Wild Things Are" come to mind, better than the new crap. Funny how a five year old can be smarter than a lib left adult.
3 posted on 06/29/2003 4:47:36 AM PDT by Cdnexpat
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To: kattracks
My wifie had to stop reading this book. Her blood pressure got out of control. Public school education may be irredeemable. Vouchers are the only thing that will save our children.
4 posted on 06/29/2003 4:55:21 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine's brother (MrConfettiman was in the streets while I was still yelling at the TV)
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To: kattracks
This type of indoctrination, for children, into the world of touchy-feely socialism can have unintended consequenses for the left. Text books are only part of the problem.

Although children are more malleable than adults children are also more in tune with basic natural drives such as aggression and dominance. That's why there are schoolyard bullys and classroom butterflys.

Historically teachers have had the common sense to channel these aggressive drives into sports and social events. But, the left is a few bricks short of a full load when it comes to common sense, so they try to suppress these basic drives by feminizing boys, and if that fails medicating them.

What kind of adults do you get when you suppress natural aggression and dominance drives in children? If a child can't assert his basic instincts does he lose them or just bottle them up until he's an adult?

So, children learn from the touchy-feely text books how to be passive and PC, go through the system, and are turned out by the thousands into the world with bottled up emotions. Is this a bomb waiting to go off? Yes. Will liberal/socialists take responsibility? No. Will parents be blamed? Yes. Will we have a safer society? No.

5 posted on 06/29/2003 4:57:49 AM PDT by Noachian (Absolute power has no place in a free Republic)
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To: kattracks
How do you stop this when parents have lost control of the system to the "educrats" who all know what is best? You cannot talk to them, you can not make demands and you certainly cannot "change the system". It is far too entrenched. They control the information and fill the kids with whatever mush they desire...the indoctrination du jour.

They enforce it with punishments if some kid objects: suspensions, detentions etc. Even going so far as to castigate parents as out of touch or trouble makers or what have you if one objects too strongly to say portraying gays in a positive light. Who truly wnats their kids to suffer from the "powers that be?"

I tried to give my kids the "real story" as it were on several subjects, especially American History which is being taught as non-patrioticly, Howard Zinn-like and as a denigration of this country. [Try reading some of the crap that passes as a textbook.]. The results are disheartening. Far from making much of a difference, most kids will simply wilt under the reinforcement from the school versus the attempts of the parents to set things aright.

It is disgusting, angering and frustrating!

The travesty or rather emboldened strategy portrays males as idiots and fools. This just does not simply happen in schools...check out any commercial. How many males are protrayed positively anymore? Even air conditioning commercials feature women discussing how quiet the unit is!NO men ever discuss such things? I mean, this is their entire campaign. You can see other examples daily, hourly.

I mention this because traditional American values are under a barrage of assault and the schools are winning. The kids that graduate are not "more tolerant" they are brainwashed and ignorant, can't think and can only spew some politically correct diatribes that are bogus and false. Yet they make voting decisions based soley on what they are taught! How much easier to advance the idea of collectivism if you have never taught that the individual is the most important cog in the system!

I am not suggesting that we return to some system where only men are portrayed only positively or only whites are in charge. Far from it. But we should promote the ideals of this country and teach pride in our accomplishments as a nation in the struggles to allow everyone to share the bounty. What is being taught now is that those who acheived in the past have to have their bounty taken away. To me, that is the crux of what is wrong.

6 posted on 06/29/2003 5:21:38 AM PDT by Adder
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To: Cdnexpat
Funny you should mention those books, because when they came out, they were decried as crap in comparison to the older stories people grew up on through the early '50s.
7 posted on 06/29/2003 6:33:21 AM PDT by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo [Gallia][Germania][Arabia] Esse Delendam --- Select One or More as needed)
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To: kattracks
The dumbed down politically correct pap, not to mention the pseudo science that fills our children's textbooks assures that they will not be educated members of society as adults.
8 posted on 06/29/2003 6:51:59 AM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: Adder
You're going to love this!
9 posted on 06/29/2003 6:56:27 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: ladylib
This should be all the reason anyone needs to HOMESCHOOL!!! It's probably one of the most revolutionary acts one can do these days and believe me it is liberating to the whole family.
10 posted on 06/29/2003 7:26:19 AM PDT by Desparado
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To: Desparado
Either that or get together with a group of like-minded parents, students, and teachers and start your own traditional private schools.

11 posted on 06/29/2003 8:09:08 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: Noachian
Parents have to look into the culture of a school, as well as academics.

12 posted on 06/29/2003 8:14:38 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: kattracks
Ms. Ravitch didn't include this in her book:
13 posted on 06/29/2003 8:18:48 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: kattracks
Diane Ravitch's new book, The Language Police

My favorite moment from the interview Diane Ravitch had with conservative Jewish
radio show host Dennis Prager:
When Ravitch revealed that this new censorship even bans portraying Jews as physicians.

I thought Prager might break a rib with his laughter at that one.
14 posted on 06/29/2003 8:39:27 AM PDT by VOA
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To: kattracks
15 posted on 06/29/2003 4:40:52 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Desparado
Funny you should say that. My sister was born just as I started first grade, and I refused to go to school. My mother taught me from these little red English horn-book type primers. That's the only time I ever learned anything I tell her all the time. She taught me English literature and history, and how to sing God Save the Queen. My father taught me reading as well, and I've been reading since I was three.

Oh yeah I didn't go to public school, but I went to catholic schools that weren't great. Now I look back and am glad that even crappy catholic schools are still better than pubbies.
16 posted on 06/29/2003 10:56:03 PM PDT by cyborg (I'm a mutt-american)
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To: ladylib
Thanks...I did like the article!
17 posted on 06/30/2003 2:58:27 AM PDT by Adder
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