I appeared at a Board meeting and presented my concerns. The Board and the social studies textbook advocates had been planning to put in the order for the books the next day, but the Board agreed to wait a month to provide time for review.
During that time, the proponents of the biased books prepared a "rebuttal." In response to the disappointing nature of that rebuttal - a rebuttal that completely missed the point, I prepared a second letter and expanded my documentation of the bias, trying to explain the problems clearly enough so that nearly anyone should (in theory) be able to sense that bias is present. The only question left to answer is whether that level of bias is acceptable. I'm still surprised that the advocates of the texts cannot acknowledge that some bias exists.
Appleton School Board
Appleton, WI 54912
Dear Board Members:
As a parent of four boys, three in the Appleton school system, I care about the quality and nature of public education. During a visit to the Morgan Building this week, I had the opportunity to review some of the reading material that my twelve-year old will be using in the next couple of years as he enters Madison Middle School. The selection of novels was impressive, including many that I feel are of great value for both pleasure and education. I appreciate the judgment that was used in selecting those few books out of so many possibilities.
Unfortunately, I found some cause for concern in a couple of the textbooks. My concern is that standards of fairness, intellectual honesty, and objectivity have been sacrificed in several instances for the sake of advancing the authors' personal biases in areas of party politics, sexuality, and religion. These divisive topics demand a cautious and fair approach in public education, respecting the views of the families in our community. Regrettably, I find such an approach to be blatantly absent from the proposed textbooks on sociology (B. R. Hess et al., Sociology, 4th ed., MacMillan, 1993) and anthropology (W. Haviland, Anthropology, 6th ed., Holt-Rhinehart-Winston, 1991). On the attached pages, I provide examples which I found and jotted down in the short time I had. Please consider them carefully and decide if this level of bias is acceptable in the community you represent.
The bias I refer to is an entrenched bigotry against religion in general and against conservatives and Christians in particular or against the value systems common to most Christians. For example, the sociology text on p. 400 lists positive values of secular humanism (democracy, world peace, compassion for human beings) - values with which most people will readily agree - and then states, "These are the beliefs that conservative Christians in the United States fear being taught to their children." Equally unfair is its discussion of abortion (p. 159), where all pretense of objectivity is discarded as youth are urged to vote for pro-abortion politicians. Haviland's text is less objectionable, but still displays a clear anti-religion bias, defining it as primitive magic. I suggest that less bigoted resources be adopted.
My second letter to the School Board
The documentation of bias
Beam back to Jeff Lindsay's planet (my home page)