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September 27, 2005

Commentaries

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Is the School Library Safe?

This controversy centers in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Laurie Taylor, a mother of two young teenage girls, complained to the local board of education about three library books that contained explicit descriptions and depictions of sexual activity. Later, Taylor would form a group called Parents Protecting the Minds of Children, and her list of three troubling books would be expanded to dozens of others.

Predictably, national library associations and anti-censorship groups quickly jumped into the fray, charging Mrs. Taylor with launching a crusade to take the Arkansas public schools back to the dark ages.

In response to her concerns, the Fayetteville Board of Education first decided to move the three books in question into a special parents-only section of the school libraries. Nevertheless, the board later rescinded that decision and, by a one-vote margin, decided to return the books to the main collection where they would be accessible to students....

Many parents are simply unaware that the category of literature now known as "young adult fiction" is filled with some of the most graphic sexuality to be found in contemporary literature. Many of the titles normalize homosexuality and describe homosexual acts while others cover issues ranging from incest to sexual abuse and matters of heterosexual technique.

Some would undoubtedly be surprised to learn that this controversy is localized in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Nevertheless, as reporter George Archibald of The Washington Times explains, Fayetteville, the home of the University of Arkansas, is marked by "the self-consciously liberal instincts of a college town" but is "surrounded by a conservative, church-going county in the heart of the Bible Belt."

Laurie Taylor's web site can be found at TeachClean.com.


Kathryn Lopez
A lesson in politicizing education

...private schools are to be encouraged in a reconstructed New Orleans. Not only because they were the choice of so many families pre-Katrina, but because a little competition to the public schools there would be a beautiful thing, and force a mess of a public school system into reform. A reconstituted public system there with the same people, with the same philosophy would be a recipe for future disaster.

Before Katrina hit, 73 of New Orleans' more than 120 schools were "failing," according to state standards. In one 2004 survey, 96 percent of high-school-age students were below average in English and 94 percent were in math.

It's not just in the classroom that's a wreck. In a state-mandate audit of the school system's payroll records (pre-Katrina), one of the investigators announced: "I'm a CPA doing this 20 years. This is the absolute worst I've ever seen. Anyone can bend any rule around here."

If an investment is going to be made in rebuilding, that's not the system that should be rebuilt — do it right this time. And, again, maybe a little competition is the ticket to ride to educational success.

Posted by Danny Carlton at September 27, 2005 05:35 AM

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