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Freedom to Learn
PSEA, November 18, 1997 -- A fundamental purpose of education in a democracy is to teach students the skills of critical thinking, so that as adults they will be able to make rational decisions in a complex and demanding world. This is as essential a purpose of education as is the teaching of the basic survival skills of reading, writing and computer literacy.
    The mounting complexity of our society has revolutionized our definition of the basics. Students in our nation's classrooms are more diverse, both linguistically and culturally, than ever before. They are growing up in an era of explosive technological, political and economic change.
    Students can no longer be educated in classrooms that bear no resemblance to the society in which they will live and work. Today's children must learn to understand, choose, negotiate, influence and cope with social pressures their parents never faced.
    In a world where the swift pace of technological change constantly requires the acquisition of new knowledge, we must help students acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn throughout their lives -- and to learn quickly, on the job. In the global economy of a shrinking world, we must provide students with a working knowledge of other nations and cultures.
    We must help students learn how to work together cooperatively. In the world that they will enter, important work is being accomplished increasingly through collaborative effort by teams of workers interacting to produce new ideas and new applications of knowledge.
    Those who seek to suppress free inquiry in our public schools are telling us they want an education that has no room for the free exchange of ideas, no room for the kind of schooling that will enable students to apply classroom learnings to the real world.
    In reality, the conflict that engages public education today is a conflict of values. The preachers, politicians, and ideologues of the radical right seem to view with alarm the challenges and demands of contemporary society. They perceive no positive values in the democratic purposes of public education. In fact, they seem to recoil from its commitment to provide a broad multicultural educational program--one that is responsive to the varied needs of a culturally and ethnically diverse student population. In contrast, the kind of schooling demanded by the far right would instill in children an ethical and cultural protectionism that is antithetical to the democratic principals on which our nation was founded.

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The Voucher Issue: What's at Stake?
PSEA, July 11, 1997 --In the guise of helping to improve education, a major effort is underway throughout the country to replace our system of public schools, which are open to all children, with voucher systems that would transfer scarce tax dollars to private schools, which are selectively available only to some children.

Key points

  • Vouchers are not about choice, freedom, equity, or learning. Vouchers would subsidize educational elitism, set up a two-tiered school system, divide the nation, and deny the certainty of opportunity for all.
  • The American people have consistently defeated attempts to use public money to fund private and/or parochial schools. Since 1966, voters in 14 states have rejected voucher and tuition tax credit initiatives or referendums 19 times. Not a single statewide voucher proposal has passed.
  • Vouchers would fund religious and other private schools with taxpayer money. Using public funds for religious schools violates the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution.
  • Vouchers don't give parents school choice. They shift taxpayer dollars to private schools, which, unlike the public schools, are not open to all students. Private schools may discriminate on the basis of family income, gender, religion, disability, or academic ability in selecting their students.
  • Vouchers are costly to taxpayers and at the same time remove accountability for the spending of taxpayer dollars.

Necessary strategies

  • Convince the American people that a two-tier education system is unfair and threatening to them and to the democratic principles of our nation.
  • Demonstrate that public schools are capable of change, growth, and renewal through school-based and community-supported restructuring efforts.
  • Work with school finance experts, education organizations, and policy leaders to identify more equitable means of school funding.
  • Work with coalitions of education stakeholders at national, state, and local levels to defeat voucher initiatives and build support for public schools.

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Education and the Economy
PSEA, June 17, 1997 -- Public education is responsible for the dramatic increase in worker productivity and economic expansion since World War II, and it continues to play a vital role in our ability to generate economic growth and advances in technology. An investment in education helps meet future and present needs.

  • $ A dollar spent for education produces 50 percent more jobs than a dollar in private investment or a dollar spent for goods and services. By contrast, defense spending produces about 25 percent fewer jobs than a dollar for private investment or consumption.
  • $ $1 billion in federal spending for education produces about 30,000 jobs.
  • $ A dollar spent for education yields six dollars in savings in social spending and increased tax revenues.

    Education is essential to economic development of states and communities, and in our mobil society it should play a part in our national economic strategy. The quality of services, including public schools, and quality of life issues are much more important than tax rates in attracting and retaining business and industry.
    The quality of public education directly affects the economy in a number of ways:

  • $ The sharp increase in high school graduation rates and college attendance in the United States during the post-World War II era was a major factor in the rapid increase of productivity per worker and the growth of the American economy. Our nation's economic competitors took this lesson to heart and invested in education. <!-- bulleted paragraph -->$ Education is a key indicator of an individual's economic status. A college graduate earns more than twice as much as a high school dropout and 50 percent more than a high school graduate.
  • $ An investment in quality public education enhances the potential of today's children and produces jobs for millions of Americans, including those employed by school districts and those who provide services to schools.

The impact in your community
    Sadly, federal support for public education programs has been inconsistent. Even federal education programs that have survived cuts in federal domestic spending have not been adequately funded to serve all students eligible in compensatory education, bilingual education and postsecondary student aid.
    Federal financial support for education strengthens local control over schools by freeing up resources for local priorities. As Christopher Lu wrote in the Harvard Journal on Legislation, "Given their varying abilities to raise and spend revenues, all districts cannot participate equally in the ideal of local control. After all, a district with scarce resources has little to control."
    The level of federal investment in programs to meet children's human needs, including nutrition and health care, translate directly into the ability of students to benefit from educational programs. And federal spending for public education translates directly into resources for your programs, jobs in your district, and your school district's ability to provide quality educational opportunity to all.

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Circumventing Censorship
PSEA, June 16, 1997 -- The following is a discussion starter questionnaire about a distrct's academic freemom policies and practices. Use of the questionnaire is intended internally to determine the need for staff training, to create awareness of censorship policies, procedures, law, etc, and to locate community resources. Externally it can be used to raise the issue with coalition groups or to initiate the discussion of intellectual freedom.

Direction: Please indicate YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW (DK) for each question and, to the best of your ability, complete the narrative sections.

    1.    Does your district have an up-to-date policy manual?
    2.    Does your district have policies for both the selection and reconsideration of instructional materials?
            A. If so, have they been formally adopted?
            B. Have they been reviewed/revised in the last three years.?
    3. Does each policy contain explicit details regarding timelines, responsibilities and definitions of terms?
    4. Does the policy require a procedural inquiry of the material before any action can be taken to change or remove it?
    5. Is there a procedure for parent complaints which requires their written documentation?
    6. Does the school system regularly communicate with civic, religious, educational and political organizations in your community? (This means using methods others than a newsletter once a month.)
    7. Has your district actively defined and promoted the concept of intellectual freedom for both the staff and the community?
    8. Is there an academic freedom policy or negotiated academic freedom clause in the teachers' contract:
    9. Would you say, currently, that the vast majority of the teaching staff, administrators and board of directors agree on a definition of intellectual freedom?
    10. Has your district kept track of those community organizations who are most likely to be influenced by hard right literature, speakers, tactics and pressure groups?
    • List the names of two local groups who are presently involved in some aspect of an educational challenge or whom you feel would become actively involved in a challenge if the "right" issue or topic arose:
        1. ________________________________
        2. ________________________________
    11. Has your district kept track of organizations who are most likely to be knowledgeable and supportive of public education and intellectual freedom?
    • List two local groups that would actively support and defend public education in the event of a major censorship controversy in your district.
        1. ________________________________
        2. ________________________________
    12. Administrator in this district knows several state and national organizations that will supply resources and supportive assistance to this district in the event of a censorship controversy.
    • List one each of these state and national organizations.
        1. ______________________________(state)
        2. ____________________________(national)
    13. Conversely, educational leaders in this district are aware of several state or national organizations that promote and supply resources to persons seeking to denigrate and/or destroy public education.
    • List one example of each of a state and national organization..
        1. ______________________________(state)
        2. ____________________________(national)

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Evolution vs. Creationism
PSEA, June 16, 1997 --

    The earth is round.
    The sun is the center of our universe.

These are examples of church/science controversies that occurred when religious leaders rejected the revelations of science that would change church doctrine.
    A fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible has caused difficulty in the past and is at the heart of the current controversy of teaching evolution and creationism in public schools. The theory of evolution, as taught in the public schools, explains how life changed over time. Creationism, on the other hand, is a religious belief that explains the origins of life by the special creations of God.

Background
    The controversy over teaching evolution and creationism in public schools flared openly beginning with the 1925 Scopes trial in a local Tennessee court. The Tennessee Supreme Court settled the issue in that state, for 40 years, when it ruled in 1927 to uphold the state law prohibiting the teaching of any theory that denies the Genesis version of creation or that suggests man has descended from a lower order of animals. Tennessee legislators repealed their anti- evolution law in 1967 and the following year, all state anti-evolution laws were overturned by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Epperson v. Arkansas, the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the First Amendment Establishment clause in the United State Constitution, struck down and Arkansas anti-evolution statue. The court found that evolution was a science, not a religion.
    Accordingly, students' access to such information could not be restricted on the basis of religious preference. Another blow to the teaching of creationism came in the 1987 decision of Aguillard v. Edwards. The U.S. Supreme Court found Louisiana's law requiring equal emphasis on the Genesis account of creation whenever evolution was taught in the public schools to be unconstitutional.
    As reported in the Harrisburg Patriot News, July 28 1994, ..."the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, on technical grounds, returned to a lower court for hearing a lawsuit brought by a teacher who insisted on his right to teach creationism to biology students."

Association position
    While teaching the dogma of a religion is not allowed in public schools, teachers may teach about religion. Studying the literary and historic contributions religions have made to our civilization is an example of teaching about religion. There is a place in public school curricula for the role of religion.

Hard right position
    Believing in a literal interpretation of the Bible, the claim is that the earth had:

a sudden creation by God.
attained the age of 6,000 but not more than 10,000 years.
geological fossils and strata laid down during Noah's flood.
all living inhabitants specially created.

Scientific creationism
    Under the guise of science, hard groups such as Intelligent Design, Creation Science, or Scientific Creationism have organized to promote the teaching of creationism in American classrooms. They are assisted by Scientific Creationism Association of Southern New Jersey, Research Science Education Foundation, Inc. in Ohio, the Anaheim, California-based Traditional Values Coalition and The Creation Research Society of Lansing, Michigan, which is made up of members who must hold a post-graduate degree in science and a belief in the literal truth of the Bible. This organization dispenses its views in a quarterly journal and through a speakers bureau.
    The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is the research division of Christian Heritage College in San Diego, California. ICR's primary activity is research devoted to substantiating the Biblical creation theory.

Common ground
    While creationism begins with a creator, evolution does not presuppose the absence of a creator. Evolution explains how things came to be what they are today. Therefore, a person of faith who does not adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible can accept a creator and can also accept evolution.
    Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1981, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the statement of Pope Pius XI that the universe was created "millions of years ago." He went on to say:
    "The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationship of man with God and the universe...Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach us how heaven was made, but how to get to heaven."

Additional materials and articles:
"The Holy War between Science and Creationism." Indiana State Teachers Association.
"Religion in the Public School Curriculum, Questions and Answers."
"Religious Holidays in the Public Schools, Questions and Answers." NEA Human and Civil Rights, 1201 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
"Six Significant Court Decisions Regarding Evolution/Creation Issues." National Center for Science Education.
"In the Beginning: The Creationist Controversy." PBS video introducing creationists' arguments and scientists' answers. Shows the effects of creationism on education. Presents a balanced picture. Write to PBS Video, 1320 Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 20314. $119.95 plus $8.50 s/h.
Schmitz, Jon and Lee, Carmen J. "Suit cites creationist teaching in Moon." Pittsburgh Post Gazette; May 24, 1994.
Caylor, Lisa C. "Teach creationism, parent urges Keystone." Clarion News. June 16, 1994. "Keystone committee says no creationism, prayer." October 6, 1994."Instruction of Creationism 'unconstitutional,' says ACLU." October 11, 1994. "Keystone board retains prayer, nixes creationism in classes." October 13, 1994. And others in series.
Applebome, Peter. (1996). "Creationism Fight Returns to Nation's Classrooms." New York Times:May 10.

Four Checks on Creationism in Public Education
(Derived from Church & State, April 1995, 11.)

  • Know what the courts have said. In Epperson v. Arkansas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that evolution is a science, not a religion and that schools may not suppress a widely accepted scientific concept just because some religious groups find it offensive. In Edwards, v. Aguillard, the Court declared unconstitutional a Louisiana law requiring equal emphasis on the Genesis account of creation whenever evolution was taught in the public schools. It found "creation science" to be religious dogma not science.
  • Watch out for shifting terminology. Creation science is just as objectionable when called "intelligent design" theory or "abrupt appearance."
  • Keep in mind that individual teachers have no right to interject creationism in science classes. According to two federal appeals court decisions, teachers may not claim religious or academic freedom to introduce creationism in public schools. Unified School District and Webster v New Lennox School District No. 122.
  • Find clergy to speak out against creationism in public schools. Clergy can undercut extremists' argument that evolution is atheistic. Most American clergy see no conflict between religion and science.

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Public School Options
PSEA, June 17, 1997 -- Among the public school options that provide parental choice without vouchers are local and state initiated intradistrict options, interdistrict options (including desegregation programs), charter schools, second chance programs, and statewide residential academic high schools.*

Locally Initiated Intradistrict Options
Intradistrict options may involve selection among different educational programs within individual school buildings, among a number of different public schools, or among all public schools within a district. The primary examples of intradistrict options initiated locally are magnet schools or programs and alternative schools or programs. At least 1,200 magnet schools are in operation throughout the country. These programs permit students to attend different schools or programs within their school district, often within the framework of a school desegregation plan. Desegregation magnets seek to change the racial and ethnic characteristic mix of students attending specific schools by providing students with choices among schools or programs offering distinctive content or structure. Many districts provide alternative schools and programs for students whose needs are not met in the district's regular schools or programs, including students at risk of dropping out or dropouts who are returning to school. Other options include career academies consisting of schools, or separate programs, within schools, in which curricula focus on specific clusters of careers (such as the health professions or agriculture).
    The most promising examples of intradistrict options are districts in which all public schools seek to expand educational options for all children. Among these districts are East Harlem, New York; Montclair, New Jersey; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. (These are NOT voucher programs, as falsely touted by voucher proponents.)

State-Initiated Intradistrict Options
In some states, local school districts are authorized, but not required, by the state to provide intradistrict choice. In other states, local districts must implement choice programs within their boundaries. At least 11 states have initiated intradistrict choice: Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Utah, and Washington State.

Interdistrict Options
Interdistrict school option programs vary in several ways: voluntary or mandatory participation, financial consequences for sending and receiving districts, extent to which transportation costs are met with public funds, attention to distribution of racial and ethnic minorities among districts, acceptable reasons for parental exercise of the option, and number of districts and students involved.
    Arkansas districts, for example, have the option of participating in interdistrict choice. Districts that decide to participate must establish standards for accepting or rejecting students from other districts. These standards may address such factors as space but cannot consider certain specified factors such as disability, English proficiency, or academic achievement. Transportation is the responsibility of the transferring students, but may be handled through agreements between the sending and receiving districts. Transfers must not adversely affect districts' dese gregation plans. State funding follows transferring students to their new districts.
    State authorized or mandated interdistrict choice can be found in at least 14 states including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State. Puerto Rico recently enacted legislation providing choice among all schools. Interdistrict options include:

  • Second chance programs that permit students with unique educational needs to be served in publicly funded programs without attention to district boundaries. Second chance programs primarily address the needs of students at risk of dropping out or those returning to complete high school. Among states offering these programs are Minnesota and Colorado.
  • Desegregation plans that support student transfers between inner-city districts and neighboring suburban districts. These are intended to increase minority presence in suburban schools or majority presence in city schools. Examples of such efforts can be found in Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Charter Schools Among the options available to students (both inter- and intradistrict) are those provided by charter schools.
  • Statewide Options Statewide options include:
  • Residential academic high schools that enroll students from throughout the state. Such public special-focus high schools have been established in at least 13 states. The North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics, for example, was established in 1978 as a coeducational high school for juniors and seniors who want to focus on science and mathematics. Admission procedures weigh students' interest in science and mathematics, standardized test scores, academic achievement, and extracurricular interests, among other factors.
        States offering such programs include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. These residential schools focus on specific subject areas, such as mathematics, science, and the arts.
  • Postsecondary options that allow 11th and 12th grade students to attend colleges, universities and vocational schools in Minnesota. These were made possible by state legislation adopted in 1985. During the first six years of the program, participants increased from 3,600 to 7,000. At the same time, more than 90 high schools have added courses to their curricula that allow students to earn both high school and college credit.

* Source: Stedman, James B. (December 13, 1993),"School Choice in 1993: Status and Issues." Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

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Preserving Academic Freedom in Public Education
PSEA, June 16, 1997 -- The leading censors say that ideas will never do students as much good as facts. Textbooks and library books that leave children to make up their own minds, they add, aren't fair to children. The censors believe education should be a passive process that teaches what to think, not how to think.
    Ready targets for attack are any texts, teachers' guides, library books or instructional materials that ask students questions such as "what do you think about...?", "what is your opinion of...?", "what would you do if...?". Asking students to discuss ideas or come to their own conclusions, according to the censors, is:

  • an invasion of privacy,
  • an infringement on parental rights,
  • an example of situational ethics,
  • a form of secular humanism, or
  • an attempt to undermine parental values or beliefs.

Censorship and other attacks on academic freedom are part of the national theopolitical economic agenda. Some people describe this as a far right or religious movement, but it's important to note that religion plays a role only in marketing the message. What we're really talking about is a political campaign to achieve economic power. That's why we're seeing a shift from locally instigated censorship attacks to nationwide movements and a move from attacks on individual books to entire curricula and comprehensive programs on which the public education system is built.
    Leaders of this agenda have identified three public institutions which have the power to define reality and impose worldviews: the courts, the media and the public schools. By controlling these institutions, the leaders gain the power to impose their ideological beliefs on an entire culture.
    Robert Simonds leads the battle to control and then dismantle public schools. His organizations NACE and CEE make no secret about that agenda. They are convinced that what we are teaching is in opposition to what they want their kids to learn. They base their opposition on the idea that there are three divinely ordained institutions in America: the state, the church, and the family.
    The function of the state is defense, liberty and restraint of evil. Simonds and his followers don't believe the state has the authority to educate their kids. The family has that responsibility. If the family doesn't act on that responsibility, they believe the church must step in.
    When schools teach anything contrary to the worldview of the family or church, they lose the trust of the public. Without public trust and support, public schools fail. And that's exactly the intent of the groups which dedicate their broadcast and direct mail energies to convincing parents and taxpayers that public schools are threatening the eternal well being of their children. According to Robert L. Thoburn in "The Children Trap," the goal is to convince parents to take their children out of the public schools.
    In addition to NACE/CEE those groups include Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, Mel and Norma Gabler's Educational Research, Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation, Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women for America, Samuel Blumenfeld, Don Wildmon's American Family Association, James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, James Dobson's Focus on The Family and Jerry Falwell's Liberty Foundation.
    Attacks on academic freedom have escalated from targeted blows at specific books or authors to widespread denouncement of whole programs. Objections are leveled at health and sexuality education programs, student newspapers and literary magazines, field trips, plays, school reform efforts, optional counseling services and more.
    Because the public is mobilized by fear, it approaches the subject with little regard for reason or logic. By the time an angry crowd marches to a school board meeting, people aren't interested in learning about the program. They just want it gone.
    The latest annual report from People For The American Way lists 475 attacks on academic freedom in 44 states including outright censorship as well as efforts to impose an ideological or sectarian agenda through other means.
    There is an increase in attacks on public education including campaigns to inject state- coerced school prayer, include creationism in biology classes, enact school voucher plans and pass parental rights legislation.
    A disproportionate number of books written by African American women were attacked in 1996. These assaults reflect a broader attack on multicultural education and efforts to make history and English curricula more accurate and complete by including contributions of women and minorities.
    Sixteen percent of the incidents reported in 1996 directly involved national, state or local hard right political organizations. An additional 16 percent appeared to be coordinated or inspired by these same extremist groups.
    Attacks against public libraries are increasing as the hard right coordinates efforts through Family Friendly Libraries. Founder Karen Jo Gounaud gets support from the Christian Coalition and Focus On the Family.

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Survival Tips for Conducting an Instructional Media Committee Hearing on Challenged Materials
PSEA, June 16, 1997

Planning

  1. The Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) chairperson, in cooperation with appropriate district personnel establishes the hearing date, place, time in strict accordance with district policy requirements.
  2. All affected persons (complainant, teacher(s), principal, superintendent, the board, media, etc.), are notified, in writing, regarding the hearing.
  3. All affected people (above) also receive with their notification, a listing or statement of expectations and limitations regarding the hearings procedure, which may include the following:
    * Verbal presentations will be limited to three minutes (districts may want to extend or shorten this time).
    * Testimony is to be limited to the material under consideration only.
    * No personal attacks will be allowed.
    * Time allocations will be monitored strictly.
    * Testimony is to be directed to the committee and not other members of the audience.
    * The audience may not question or interrupt a person giving testimony.
    * The press/media is requested to arrive early to set up equipment.
    * Written testimony should not exceed four, double-spaced, typewritten pages and the content must be directed to the material under consideration; and it must not contain personal attacks or allegations. Set a specific due date.
    *Those choosing to give testimony must notify the school district, in writing. (Set a specific date and time that is in accordance with policy and that will allow the committee to get a perspective of the number of participants.)
  4. The IMC chairperson will set a time limitation on the overall public testimony portion of the hearing. Ideally, one hour is best, but the time is related to the number of persons indicating they would like to participate.

Physical Setting

  1. Seat IMC at tables, preferably at an elevated level, facing the audience.
  2. Provide theater-style seating for the audience, if possible.
  3. Provide microphones if the room is large.
  4. Provide a table or podium for the people giving testimony.
  5. Have a clock (that the chairperson can easily see) or a stop watch. Some community organization or the school debate team may have the "debate lights" that are red, yellow and green and provide speakers a visual indicator of their time allocation.
  6. Have video, audio and/or media equipment set up in advance to eliminate disruptions.
  7. Provide notepads, pencils and glasses of water for the committee.

Hearing Procedures

  1. Introduce the committee.
  2. State the purpose of the hearing in accordance with district policies and procedures.
  3. Review the procedures that will be followed, specifically all those issues contained in the
    notification letters.
  4. Provide an order of testimony. Suggestions include:
    * Random drawing of names;
    * Alternating opponents and proponents;
    * Having all opponents testify first then all of the proponents follow.
  5. Consistently and firmly maintain control of speakers' time, audience interruptions, inappropriate testimony, etc.
  6. Provide the chairperson with the option of discontinuing/recessing the hearing until person(s) who show total disregard for the rules leave or regain control of themselves. The chairperson should provide sufficient warnings to those person(s).

Taking Testimony

  1. Request that speakers give their name and address at the onset of their presentation.
  2. Again, firmly and fairly monitor time and inappropriate comments, audience interaction, etc.
  3. Remind speakers to address the committee, not the audience, and to focus their comments on the specific book, film, etc.

Closing Testimony

  1. Thank all participants.
  2. Briefly explain the next part of the IMC process is that the committee will review and discuss comments, research professional literature, etc. The audience may stay and listen, but they may not participate or interrupt the committee during deliberations.

Conducting the IMC Deliberations

  1. Led by the chairperson, committee members will review testimony and relevant information focusing on identifying salient points of agreement and disagreement.
  2. Keep issues within the confines of district policy, state law, the collective bargainingagreement and educational precedence.
  3. Prioritize issues.
  4. Explore alternatives.
  5. Avoid giving credence to anecdotal "evidence."
  6. Take a vote and record how each committee member voted.
  7. Provide the chairperson with the option of setting a continuance if the committee cannot
    reach a decision and if they feel they need additional information. (This necessitates notifications, adherence to timeline restrictions, etc.)
  8. Record members' votes and specific suggestions when the committee reaches a decision. (See the "IMC Recommendation Form " on the next page) and forward these to the appropriate people and organizations (e.g., complainant, teacher(s), principal, superintendent, board, media).

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What's the Story?
PSEA, June 16, 1997 -- The following explains the nature of the conflict over Impressions, Quest, Pumsy, DUSO and DARE:

Impressions
This Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. reading series is an anthology of 800 stories. It is frequently attacked by the hard right for "promoting witchcraft." A small percentage of the stories or poems deal with fantasy themes and variations on popular fairy tales.
    Among the selections in the anthology are works by C. S. Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Seuss, Rudyard Kipling and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
    Groups attacking the series include Don Wildmon's American Family Association, Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition and Robert Simonds' Citizens for Excellence in Education.
    The attacks claim that the stories about fictional witches, ghosts and goblins indoctrinate children in occultism, Satanism and witchcraft.
    As a result of the controversy, many school districts will not use the series.
    In Woodlands, California, attorneys affiliated with the American Family Association filed a lawsuit against the use of Impressions.
    The ninth U.S. circuit court of Appeals, June 1994, said that passages and related lesson plans were simply teaching aids and not religious rituals. Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice joined the case on appeal. With the appeal denied, the ACLJ may take the case to the Supreme Court.
    See: "Courts Deny Ban on Witchcraft Passages," by Edward Felsenthal, The Wall Street Journal: June 21, 1994. Also see Right-Wing Watch, July/August 1994.

Quest
    Developed by the Lions Club, Quest is an anti-drug program used in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
    The hard right objects on the grounds that it undermines parental authority and relies on "psychotherapy and values clarification."
    Objectors in Pennsylvania are following the example of the Blackstone Society which filed suit against eight small public school districts in Nebraska in 1991. A federal judge dismissed the case after several parents withdrew from the suit because they removed their children from the public schools. 

Pumsy (In Pursuit of Excellence)
    People For The American Way says Pumsy leads the list of Radical Right objections to curriculum.
    Jill Anderson created this dragon puppet to teach self-esteem and respect for others. After repeated attacks and claims that Pumsy taught children they don't have to rely on God, Anderson removed the positive thought line, "I am me and I am enough." Other critics claim that Pumsy is a practitioner of New Age mysticism and Hinduism and that the puppet is used to put children into a hypnotic state.   

DUSO and DARE
    Developing Understanding for Self and Others and Drug Abuse Resistance Education are other self-esteem/anti-drug programs under attack.

Books in trouble
    See http://www.cs.cmu.edu/Web/People/spok/banned-books.html . Lists books that have been banned, when, where and why.
    On the list of most frequently challenged books 1995-96:

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  • The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck
  • Native Son, Richard Wright
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, Christopher and James Lincoln Collier
  • Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

permission to re-distribute with attribution to Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), Harrisburg PA 17105-1724



 


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