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The Lie: Evolution

Textbook War

BOOK REVIEW: The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education

By Karl Priest February 10, 2015 (revised 3-1-2016)

The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education byDr. Adam Laats (educator and historian):
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education
Associate Professor, Department of History (Harpur College)

Dr. Laats is the first scholar to quote from the book (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party) published by the protestors.

Sprinkling the book with humor, such as “conservative journalists…had run Rugg ragged” (73) or tongue-in-cheek speculating that Californians were upset after losing the 1950 Rose Bowl which motivated them to jump on progressive education. (123), Dr. Laats seems like he is a teacher students enjoy. The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education provides a comprehensive history, mostly in their own words, of conservative activism in public education.

In this heavily footnoted (1,373 total) book I found lots of “I did not know that” parts, along with several “I know better than that” parts—particularly in Chapter Five. The latter are overwhelmingly due to Dr. Laats simply quoting from biased sources. His personal opinion is rarely interjected.

The book uses four major battles over public education. Out-of-state activists from both sides became involved in each controversy, but Dr. Laats placed emphasis on those who were conservative—perhaps because that is the book’s focus.

He pointed out how both sides use the same words to mean opposite things. (122)

Following, with some of my own commentary, are a few of the excerpts that I found to be exemplary or egregious.

Subtitled “Progressives in a Strange Land”

Conservatives, like their progressive foes, have rarely questioned the notion that the schools of today generate the society of tomorrow. (3)

The goal of The Other School Reformers is to observe the arguments and ideas presented by conservatives themselves by taking a look at the four most famous educational confrontations in the twentieth century. (5-6)

CHAPTER ONE: What Does Jesus Have to Do with Phonics?
Subtitled “Understanding Educational Conservatism”

Conservatives and progressives both agree that schooling can save or destroy society… If done wrong, schooling can warp and pervert the next generation. (13)

No better description of liberals has been penned than Dr. Laats’ depiction of how conservatives perceived, the liberal education hostile elite as a gaggle of self-important, self-identified “experts.” (17)

Conservatives in decade after decade have repeated themes, ideas, and stories…For example, conservative school reformers from every generation have argued that classroom practices have a decisive influence on broader cultural and political trends. (19)

In 1923 the President General of the Daughters of the American Revolution Anne Minor said, “Guard well your schools lest the life of the nation be poisoned at its source.” (19)

Dr. Laats used the chief liberal strategy, the proverbial “Race Card” several times. The particular slant that stood out to me concerned the Kanawha County Textbook War. (I)n the 1970s West Virginia, conservative school reformers believed that their opposition to some African American writers did not imply old-fashioned racism. (15) Actually, the issue was handled fairly objectively in this first instance. It should be noted that the Kanawha County Textbook War protesters were not racist. Therefore, it was NOT a matter of belief.

CHAPER TWO: Monkeys, Morality, and Modern America (1925)
Subtitled “Conservative Educational Activism in the Scopes Era”

As the author of Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America's Culture Wars Dr. Laats is an expert on the Scopes Trial in his own right.

On pages 49-50 Dr. Laats documented that white supremacy was part and parcel to evolution and both progressives and conservatives had racists among their ranks. At this point, Dr. Laats could have included the fact that the book used in Tennessee schools when the Scopes Trial occurred was racist. From the book:

At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America. (Civic Biology. Hunter, George 1914, p. 196).

A perfect example of how liberals “play” is portrayed at the end of the chapter. The conservative side in the Scopes trial emerged tarred with a lasting image as witch hunters, marshalling the forces of superstition and ignorance to keep real science out of America’s schools. (71)

CHAPTER THREE: Pulling the Rugg Out (1939-1941)
Subtitled “Textbooks and the American Way”

Professor Harold Rugg’s books had been attacked by conservatives and he retaliated in 1941 calling his opponents “enemies of our children.” (74) In 1935 he accused the American Legion of a “devilish program against the American way of teaching.” (81) The Legion wanted history books that told one united national story, not a story of state or sectional history…scrumptiously accurate…and most important…build character. (93)

Rugg had consistently emphasized his desire to change society by reforming the schools. (77) He predicted, nothing could stop the “progressive advance” of American schools. The progressive victory remained “utterly inevitable.” (121)

During the mid-1930s a woman said at a public meeting, “You can’t take the youth of our land and give them this awful stuff and have them come out safe and sound for God and righteousness.” (79)

CHAPTER FOUR: Rich, Republican, and Reactionary (late 1940s-early 1950s)
Subtitled “Pasadena’s Revolt against Progressivism”

Progressive Willard Goslin, superintendent of Pasadena, California schools, promoted the United Nations even though conservatives in Pasadena and around the nation saw (the UN) as a sinister international conspiracy hoping to transform patriotic Americans into weak-willed socialistic internationalists. (127) The conservatives were right.

A close colleague of John Dewey (father of the modern American public school system), William Heard Kilpatrick, came to town to help Goslin. Kilpatrick had previously criticized children being told “certain things were wrong because ‘the Bible says so’ or because their church so taught.” (130)

In 1948 the House Un-American Activities Committee issued a pamphlet warning against communist subversion of public schools and advising those opposing it to be ready to be attacked. The “standard smears” used against alert patriots, HUAC warned, included “accusations of ‘witch-hunting,’ ‘Red-baiting,’ ‘textbook burning,’ and ‘strangling academic freedom.” (140) Those tactics were used then, now, and particularly during the event studied in Chapter Five of The Other School Reformers.

Controversial conservative Allen Zoll correctly predicted John Dewey’s “mental and ethical nihilism” was dangerous thinking that had taken over American schools, and if not stopped such ideas would certainly lead to “the disintegration and final extinction of the American society.” The graduates of such schools would be unable to vote intelligently. In the end, they would succumb gladly and gratefully to the demands of an “authoritarian state.” (148) Although he was an ardent anti-Communist, Zoll was prophetic in proclaiming that the chief danger was not communism. It was progressivism.

A wise woman, DAR President General Grace Brosseau, said (1929) “One does not place before a delicate child a cup of strong black coffee and a glass of milk; or a big cigar and a stick of barley candy; or a narcotic and orange, and in the name of progress and freedom insist that both must be tested in order that the child be given the right of choice.” (172)

Although some conservatives thought federal involvement would work to their benefit DAR members in 1943 received warnings about the dangers of federal aid to education. If the federal government paid for education, it would simply mean the US Office of Education taking over the intrusive role that had long been played by the experts of Teachers College…Such federal aid created nothing, one DAR writer warned, but “another huge arm of the Federal Government…more chains…forged to shackle the unthinking.” (174)

CHAPTER FIVE: Save the Children (1974-1975)
Subtitled “Kanawha County in the Age of Malaise”

The chapter opens claiming the Kanawha County school superintendent went into hiding fearing for his life. (See more on that below.) Then comes the outrageous, unscholarly statement that shootings, bombings, and violence became nearly daily occurrences. (188) Besides the simple math (days in a year or school year divided by reports of proven violence committed by individuals sympathetic to the protesters), I have documented that the Kanawha County Textbook Protesters (the “Courageous Corps of ’74”) were NOT VIOLENT!

Even Dr. Laats’ blog announcing the contract to publish his book focused on the bombing. He wrote that it takes a look at “the literally explosive fight over schools and textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in 1974 and 1975.”

I have no doubt that Dr. Laats does not have contempt for the Courageous Corps of 74, however the Courageous Corps of 74 were intentionally slurred in the opening to this chapter. I use the word “intentionally” intentionally.

Dr. Laats allowed me to preview a draft of this chapter prior to publication. After reading the first two paragraphs I had had enough and told him (in part) “It's 5th grade English to open a paragraph (extend to chapter) with a topic sentence or hook.  Your choice of opening destroys any hope of providing an accurate portrayal of the protesters. Yes, those (violent) incidents attracted a lot of attention.  Liberals jumped on the incidents to slam the protesters.  I deal with it objectively and truthfully in a section of Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party (pg.5). To say "shootings, bombings and violence became nearly daily occurrences" is plainly WRONG.  I have seen all (and own most) of the news reports and can prove it.”

I did not suggest a rewrite, but now offer what I consider a fair chapter opening:

“Thousands of parents and citizens participated in peaceful protests of the public schools, but their honorable behavior has been hidden by less than a dozen individuals (some never proven to be actual protesters) who committed a few violent acts.”

To his credit, Dr. Laats allowed the protester point to be published that some of the books’ content was so obscene it could not be read in polite company. (197) That is quite an understatement though. Not only did local newspapers refuse to print, and television stations refuse to allow oral reading from, but early in the protest the board met with the textbook selection committee teachers. Mrs. Moore asked a teacher to read from one of the books. The teacher refused. For another account of this see Betty Jarvis in Chapter 12. Interestingly, even though audio recordings were made for all meetings during this time, no audio tape or transcript of this meeting can be found. The board record only notes that on May 23, 1974 “The board entered into a lengthy discussion concerning the textbooks which had been adopted in the April 11 meeting.” (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg.102)

A parent described, in a letter-to-the-editor, the situation of what the school system wanted. Now once again, we hear, “Parents, trust us!”... “Trust us,” while we turn your precious heirs into animals. Reduced to the basest nature, with no convictions of their own, who wil be unable to make individual value judgments…” Parents like that thought the entire educational establishment had proven itself time and again to be incompetent and immoral. (204) History after 1974 proved the parents were precise.

The editor (James Moffett) of one of the most controversial series of the protested books admitted that the book series really did intend to shake up students’ and families’ moral traditions. (207)

A major compliment goes to Dr. Laats for pointing out the fact that it is easy to confirm the legal coercion applied to leaders of the protest. (213) It is also good that Marvin Horan was not used as a whipping boy as is typically done. Horan was not accused of planting any bombs or planning any bombings directly, but rather of encouraging the violence. (213) The truth is that Marvin Horan was railroaded.

Dr. Laats simply relied upon reports and papers often prepared by individuals who, at worse, despised the protesters or, at best, did sloppy research. Realistically, he could not comment (even if he wanted to) regarding the slanted content. However, little “qualifiers” reveal a prejudice. Dr. Laats said that (Superintendent) Underwood received incessant telephone death threats (212), and Alice Moore, for instance, claimed to have received threats from textbook supporters. (213) Notice the phrasing and the addition of “claiming” in the second example. The scale is tipped to the liberal viewpoint. Dr. Laats lacks the insight to see the slanted agenda of so-called scholars he studies because he is afflicted with liberalism. More about that in the Addendum.

Dr. Laats did put his own prejudice in when he said (212) that “By late September, he (Underwood) had moved his family out of their home.” The article Dr. Laats used to make his claim is “Dr. Kenneth Underwood: The Man in the Middle”, (Charleston Daily Mail, Sept. 19, 1974, pg. 1D). I encourage you to read it with an open mind. Besides that it is not “late September” there are some major misinterpretations and exaggerations. Dr. Underwood said that his phones (office and home) had rung “incessantly.” He said, “During the last two weeks. I’d say I spent 80 per cent of my time on the phone. The reality was that people were mostly, at worse, pestering him. He said that he went to his office and walked in and out the front door. The police and he decided “it would be best for (him) not to be around where protesters gathered.” He did mention one call that threatened him and his kids. According to the article, the Underwood family was back in their home.

An unidentified protester shot out the windows of the board of education building without any causalities. (214) Talk about a lynching! No one claimed credit for that act. The Charleston Daily Mail (9-16-74) photographs show two small (perhaps 2 more had pellet holes) windows above the entrance door were damaged. That sentence leaves the reader with room for an image of a major and severely dangerous event.

The section on racism (221-228) is bigoted because, as is often the case, liberals use the “Race Card” as a desperate attempt to salvage an argument they have severely lost. Liberal Laats cannot overcome his own prejudice in that regard. He said “it seems like: referring to an accusation that protesters objected to an image of a black boy and white girl on a book cover. Also, Dr. Laats said that some of the protester claims (of not being racists) seem legitimate. (225) Those are values-based subjective statements that are in no way provable.

A point by point critique of Chapter Five prejudices and errors is in the Addendum.

The Textbook War is unique among the major government schooling battles because the Textbook War was totally based upon the values of Bible believing born again Christians. Those folks who are maligned as Christian “fundamentalists.” Liberalism deplores those folks. That reality causes an unavoidable conflict when reporting about the event as explained in the Addendum.

Subtitled “Conservatism and American Education”

Educational conservatives have always declared that if subversive or insidious ideas become part of the curriculum, young people will mature in unhealthy and perverted ways. They will grow into morally stunted adults, leading the nation into ruin… Schools, conservatives have insisted for generations, must teach basic religious truths or at least not denigrate religion. They must instill thoughtful patriotism in the young, or at least not deride students’ love of country. They must help children to appreciate the capitalist traditions of America, or at least not teach that free markets are evil. Schools, conservatives have argued, must support parents’ desire to pass along inherited values, or at least not step arrogantly between parent and child to impose a suspect system of sneering modern values. (238)

In West Virginia in the 1970s, activists from this conservative tradition drew a line in the sand against new efforts to transform the morals of a new generation of school children. (239)

Quoting Mel and Norma Gabler, Dr. Laats, starts his final three paragraphs with the obvious. “The basic issue is simple…Which principles will shape the minds of our children? Those which uphold family, morality, freedom, individuality, and free enterprise; or those which advocate atheism, evolution, secularism, and a collectivism in which an elite governs and regulates religion, parenthood, education, property, and the lifestyle of all members of society” (243)

Since 2008 American has witnessed the results of progressive (i.e. “liberal”) dogma becoming the prevailing standard. The other side truly understands where the battle lies. Too many conservatives have compromised and forgotten the battles fought to protect our children.

For anyone willing to study, Dr. Laats' book provides a comprehensive history of major conservative battles against progressivism.


1. Much to the dismay of liberals, Alice Moore became board president in 1979 and she had not compromised an inch. She said the textbook controversy “was the best thing that ever happened to Kanawha County.” (Charleston Daily Mail 1-1-1979)

I hope to include Mrs. Moore’s commentary of Chapter Five below.

2. Dr. Adam Laats is a gentleman and a scholar. He is truly a nice guy. Lots of liberals are likeable. Sadly, many (most?) are misled because of the hatred hidden within their hearts. They hate God because God is not as they wish Him to be. Like all humans, their self-righteousness is compared to filthy rags by eternal standards (Isaiah 64:6).

Intellectuals perceive themselves as intellectually and (often) morally superior to conservatives. That makes it harder for them to conceive that they can be deceived.

The title of Dr. Laats’ blog, I Love You, but You’re Going to Hell is a passive-aggressive shaking-of–the-fist at the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, it contains (from what I have read) kind and gentle commentary.

He is bothered by public school students being given the right to pray and express their religious convictions. But, I won’t debate his alarmist points raised in that article. Dr. Laats does not have a scholarship problem. As with True Believers in Evolution, he has a spiritual problem. Science and scholarship sink when dealing with spiritual issues. No matter the level of integrity, when someone begins to write on spiritual issues (as in Chapter Five of his book), they (even though they would insist otherwise) become of intense interest to Satan. In any way possible Satan will try to influence their academic research and reports. Dr. Laats takes the subject lightly as he explains beginning at about 12:30 in his presentation about creationism. The speech shows that he understands the issue. He is an exemplary example of the fact of the matter: It is a heart, not a head, problem.

I truly hope he abandons that evil worldview of liberalism before he completes the trail of his biblical namesake Adam of Genesis, a trial on which we all travel. To do so would be much more profound than that of the average man. Dr. Laats is featured on the Binghamton University evolutionary studies program which is “a campus-wide program at Binghamton University whose mission is to advance the study of evolution in all of its manifestations, including the human sciences and humanities in addition to the biological sciences.” If he would dare to question evolutionism he would be done on that campus and any secular school in the States. He would become part of the Slaughter of the Dissidents. The fanatical adherence to the anti-science of evolutionism held by secular universities would destroy Dr. Laats professionally. The secular god does not allow dissent. Evolution is the means with which Satan has attacked God since the Creation when Satan asked Eve, “Yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1)

For Dr. Laats to get saved, it would be the intellectual equivalent of a Muslim rejecting Islam. The institutional imams would figuratively torture and then academically behead him. Please join me in praying for Dr. Laats to have wisdom and courage to make his free will decision to reject the lies he has embraced. Hell is worse than the ostracism from his high position in liberal land. We truly love him, although he is going to hell.

3. Overall Dr. Laats did a commendable job summarizing and paraphrasing conservative thoughts. The following consists of a mixture of commentary of his few failures and other passages in the chapter that are worthy of comment—usually (not always) due to intolerant individuals quoted by Dr. Laats. (Some of the excerpts are on the main Textbook Protester Truth. NOT Racist, and NOT Violent pages.

Referring to the contributing to the delinquency of a minor arrest of school superintendent Dr. Kenneth Underwood: His crime? Approving textbooks that included the works of writers such as Eldridge Cleaver, Sigmund Freud, and e.e. cummings. (186) There was a WHOLE LOT MORE to it than that! This is an attempt to make Underwood appear as a martyr.

Such rural fundamentalists, the NEA declared, had been egged on by right-wing extremist groups from around the country, especially the John Birch Society. (186) The NEA itself was an outside left-wing extremist group (one of several) and only conducted interviews (contrary to Dr. Laats’ claim on page 216 that it was an “investigative committee”). The NEA could not prove such a statement about “right-wing” groups. Conservative groups interjected their opinions, but certainly did not egg on the protesters. Whatever the John Birch Society’s involvement was in the protest, it certainly was not nearly as sinister as liberal conspiracy theorists proclaim. According to Wikipedia the John Birch Society is “a political education and action organization … (which) supports traditionally conservative causes such as anti-communism, support for individual rights, and the ownership of private property. It promotes U.S. independence and sovereignty and opposes globalism…” The John Birch Society’s website states: “In the United States, however, a conservative is one who seeks to support and retain the traditional institutions of the U.S. government, including the rule of law under the Constitution, and the political doctrines of individual rights and freedom as espoused by the Founding Fathers.” The group’s stated aim is to achieve “Less Government, More Responsibility, and — With God’s Help — a Better World.” (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 12) What is so extreme about those goals?

Dynamite bombs rocked the offices of the school board building. (187) It was omitted that no one was ever arrested for that crime. More examples of assumed and assigned guilt to the protesters follow.

School buildings became, in some cases empty shells, blocked by angry pickets of protesters. (187) The photographs of the pickets tell another story. On page 215 Laats reported that one school principal noted that the picketers at his school remained universally cordial. Facing dangerous pickets makes for a good story to enhance egos or demean protesters. Certainly, there were some angry words hurled here and there, but liberals claim words don’t matter—especially to innocent children.

A section of the chapter is “Sweet Alice.” (188) What is omitted is that everyone, including her fair-minded foes, considered Alice More honorable and polite—sweet. (O)ne of the board members, who favored the books from the first, accurately said that Mrs. Moore was “very bright.” Her enemies sarcastically called her “Sweet Alice.” Actually, the title was appropriate. Alice Moore is a kind, softspoken, lady’s lady. The nickname was coined by Mike Snyder, a Gazette reporter. I do not know his intent, but the term was used in derision of Mrs. Moore by pro-bookers and the media. (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pgs. 72, 81) School superintendent Dr. Kenneth Underwood explained that even though he and Mrs. Moore did not see eye-to-eye on many things “at least Alice is honest and you have to respect her for that.” Charleston Daily Mail, 10-12-1974, pg. 10A

Kanawha County Association of Teachers of English president Richard Clendenin explained that opposition (to the books) must come from “uniformed and ill-informed” citizens. (199) He demonstrated the snobbish we-know-better-than-the–parents attitude of so many of the professional “educators”.

The opposition to the books, the Reverend (Ronald) English felt came from “the kind of tyranny that seeks to control the minds of youth.” (199) Pastor English was a liberal who did not comprehend that his stament fit his side even more accurately.

Michael Wenger conceded that the books contained some explicit material about human sexuality and challenging ideas about morality…Such things as violence and skepticism, Wenger argued, were crucial parts of life, and Wenger told the crowd, “we cannot hide it from our children.” (199) What he wanted to expose his own children to was his business. I doubt if he would have sent his children to a fundamentalist Sunday school for an hour a week. For more on Wenger’s hypocrisy, see Addendum 7 of “Indisputable Ignoble Ignorance and Insolence ”.

Certainly, an insistence that protesters need not actually read the books sounds like a head-in-the-sand reaction. (203) That statement, by Dr. Laats, is in the context of James Moffett’s accusation against the protesters. Mr. Moffett’s duplicity is debunked on pages 34-37 of Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party and throughout parts of the Textbook Protester Truth pages. Also, see below. The truth is that the protesters probably read more of the books than their opponents. No one knows for sure. There is no doubt that Alice Moore read almost all (if not every word) of the books. Also, Superintendent Dr. Underwood “admitted he has not read all of the texts, but said he has read some of the more controversial…There are some things I don’t like, but I don’t know if it’s because they are filthy, I guess I am torn.”Charleston Daily Mail, 10-12-1974, pg. 10A

(C)onservative reformers often assumed that the levers of educational power had been seized by a usurping clique of self-described experts. Such experts, many conservatives in Kanawha County believed, could be counted on to produce skewed and subversive materials. (203) Dr. Laats hit a homerun with that summation of conservative thought. He went on to summarize the thoughts of protest leader Elmer Fike. (T)he entire educational establishment had proven itself time and again to be incompetent and immoral. (204)

James Moffett, the editor of one of the most controversial series of the protested books, agreed with the protesters on one thing: this reading series hoped to transform the morality and worldview of students. It planned to change radically the nature of schooling to create a generation of young people who would not accept the rote dictates of traditional morality. (208)

The press showed images of cars with windows smashed… (209) There were two such incidents and one was a car owned by a protest leader.

(A)t the height of the first boycott, students from George Washington High School staged a pro-textbook walkout. As one student explained, “We see nothing wrong with the books.” (209) That is so funny! Can you imagine high school students seeing anything wrong with Penthouse magazine?

After a week of tumultuous protests, the school board offered a lukewarm solution. They would remove the books from the schools and aping an eighteen member citizens’ committee to review the books. (209) That turned out to be a con job that the protesters fell for. As Alice Moore said, “ The review committee, as I suspected, was made up of a majority of people who looked at the objections raised by the minority of the committee and saw no problems with anything. Remember, almost 75 percent of parents refused to allow their children to use the elementary series and 34 percent exempted their secondary students. Yet somehow, on this fair committee, we managed to have a majority of citizens who saw nothing they thought was a problem.” (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 205. More details are also on pages 47-49.)

(T)he protest witnessed two shootings on September 12, 1974. And both victims came from among the ranks of the protesters. (213) One of the victims never identified himself as a protester. He was on his way to work and not involved in the protest. His assailant was a member of the “Concerned Parents for Better Education,” an organization whose name was changed immediately following the incident to “Kanawha Coalition for Quality Education”, the most outspoken group of supporters. (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 114) The press and all future researchers and writers (to my knowledge) ignore or hide that fact. The ONLY humans who were hit with bullets were victims of pro-bookers!!!

(P)rotesters routinely threw rocks at school buses. (214) Again, no proof provided of who threw the rocks. This is another example of assigning guilt without proof are on page 214.

Chandler Elementary School in Orchard Manor was hit by a series of fire bombs. A car drove by and an occupant threw three homemade gas bombs. (214) That was my school. Only two window shades were damaged. It was probably kids because Chandler was always a site of frequent vandalism due to its close proximity to the toughest neighborhood in West Virginia. (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 176)

One local principal reported that he had fielded twelve bomb threats in three weeks. (214) An October 15, 1974 Daily Mail report disclosed that five students were arrested for calling in bomb threats. Some of the calls were made from the school. One of the students said they did it “to get the kids out of school.” (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 9-10)

One individual published a flyer that referred to lynching and Dr. Laats fanned the flames when he opined that the man’s rhetoric loomed as a reminder of the extralegal violence to which the protesters might resort. (215) The man may have been an extremist or he could have been a jokester. Some women spontaneously made KKK signs on sheets of paper using pencils and held them up at a board meeting. The initials jokingly stood for “Kick Kinsolving Out of Kanawha County”. (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 12) Matthew Kinsolving was a turn-coat board member. The signs sent liberals into a tizzy!

On November 7, 1974, the board met to review the recommendations of the citizens’ review committee. No one sitting in that packed meeting room could have forgotten that just one week earlier, a huge dynamite blast had rocked the building. (222) This is the highest of hyperbole. Dr. Laats could not know the minds of any of those present. The so-called “huge” blast did not harm an employee who was working thirty feet away. (Charleston Daily Mail, 10-31-74, pg. 1) No one was ever charged and protesters joked that had a coal miner actually set the blast it would have done much more damage.

In another attempt to tamp down public anger, the school board agreed to Alice Moore’s guidelines for future textbook selection… No textbooks…could “intrude into the privacy of the students’ homes”…textbooks must emphasize such notions as the importance of the traditional family, loyalty to the United States…responsibilities of citizenship...eliminate “offensive language”…encourage “traditional rules of grammar”… (not) promote racial animosity…nor...defame the traditional heroes of American history. (222) WHAT IS WRONG WITH ANY OF THOSE ITEMS?

(Alice) Moore forced through an agreement that the board would approve a new private Christian school. (223) She could not force the board to do anything. If she could, they would have not adopted the books. Ignoring the question of the right of a failed government agency being allowed to grant a freedom for parents to educate their children as they see fit, if the school met the requirements the board had to “grant” it recognition.

The African American community, (NAACP member Ron) English recalled, heard protesters denounce the “nigger books.” (224) Huh? Did all blacks hear that? I was around thousands of protesters for many hours and NEVER heard a racist remark. Perhaps someone said something like that, but the story is a plain old liberal lie and this particular telling differs from what usually is told. It was supposedly signs saying “Get the Nigger Books Out.” I searched three large collections of newspaper articles and did not find a single photo of such a sign. I am certain that, had there been such signs, one would have been front page news. I am mystified that pro-bookers did not post such a sign to discredit the protesters.” (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 175)

A few months later (after the NEA “investigation” (NAACP member Ron), English had become much bitterer bout the racist, patronizing attitudes of protest leaders. In March 1975, English complained that such “white people” had showed decided “nerve…to suggest what is best for our children.” (224) Since Dr. Laats did not cite the accusation of “racist patronizing” protesters, it must be a mistaken and bigoted statement belonging to Dr. Laats. Brother English’s obvious intelligence was clouded by his loyalty to liberalism. He totally missed the FACT that liberal whites were choosing what was best for black children!

Dr. Laats relates a true story about a rumor that spread waring that a group of blacks planned to invade a community located in the heart of the protest. Some of the men armed themselves and put their women and children in church buildings. The situation was a racial tinderbox that never quite got the spark it needed to explode in a racial bloodbath, as Horanrecalled. In spite of that lucky outcome, the motives of many protesters remained violently racist. (224) Dr. Laats and other liberals trumpet that incident as a racist act. To be nice, that is male bovine manure. If a rumor had spread that a bunch of white trouble makers were coming, the folks would have done the same thing. If the rumor was that a bunch of white liberals were coming, their laughter would have made it more difficult. Speaking of white liberals, they would have relied on the police to do their fighting. For Dr. Laats to editorialize about the “motives of many protesters” is inexcusable and an exemplary example of personal bigotry trumping objective scholarship. Laats uses a excerpt from the admitted bigot James Moffett. After mocking the protesters for having such a fit over “Jack and the Beanstalk” (224) Moffett told a story about a board member claiming the cover of a book was the key to the protest. The cover had a collage that included a black boy and a white girl. Dr. Laats easily fell for that bigoted slur of the protesters because his liberalism blinded his scholarship. It seems likely that many protesters, like many white Americans at the time and since, were motivated by such simple knee-jerk racism. Well, Dr. Laats, it seems that you and other liberals have your own knee problems regarding Bible believing Christians. Commendably, Dr. Laats went on to state that the matter was much more complex and white progressives also had an implicit white supremacist ideology. (225)

Dr. Laats stated that Ezra Graley’s use of the term “colored boy” likely offended many people. The word “colored” was commonly used at that tme and remains part of the NAACP whose director said "the term 'colored' is not derogatory. Dr. Laats revealed his lack of understanding about fundamentalist Christianity when he said that Graley referred to saving a “colored boy”. (226) You can hear Graley’s words at point 0:55 in the video of that event. Bible believing Christian know they cannot save anyone and Graley simply said that the boy “was saved.”

(F)or many African Americans, even religious leaders such as Ron English, protesters’ anger at the inclusion of African American authors sent a very different signal.” (227) The reference is to the obvious non-racist behavior of some key protesters. Liberal Reverend English must have wanted preferential treatment. The protesters were objecting to the content of the material not the color of the men who wrote it. Hmm, that sound like something Dr. Martin Luther King preached.

Though protest leaders may have disowned the Klan, they did share the Klan’s embrace of traditional values. (227-228) Inserting “may have” made the sentence biased and allowed for the reader to have doubt that the leaders really did disown the Klan What were the “traditional values”? Perhaps liberals would agree with them to a certain extent. How does the following statement roll with liberals? "Although liberal leaders may have disowned Satanists, they did share the Satanist’s embraced values."

In 1976, she (Alice Moore) again ran successfully for the school board. (228) It was a major omission to fail to mention her landslide victory. As Mrs. Moore wrote, “ I had over 25,400 votes. This total was almost triple the vote I got in my first election five years earlier. In the next election following the textbook controversy, I received the largest vote tally ever cast in Kanawha County for a school board candidate and was just short of the 26,000 plus votes received, in Kanawha County, by John D. Rockefeller III who ran for governor that year.” (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 189)

Teachers and administrators felt extremely cautious about what went on in their classrooms. (233) An well they should! They do not have a carte blanche right to do as they please. Just read West Virginia School News headlines or search <teacher student sex> on the Internet for proof. Sadly, what the Courageous Corps of ’74 did only lasted a few years as this video proves.

School principal Tom Bunting of Cedar Grove community school, soon to resign in disgust, told of a teacher who came to him in desperation. The teacher was slated to teach a unit in biology class about the asexual reproduction of mollusks. She asked the principal, “Can we defend teaching this in class?” (234-235) I won’t speculate on why Mr. Bunting picked up his marbles and quit. However, the teacher’s question was either (a) stupid or (B) sarcastic.

The protesters wanted public funding to send their children to private schools. (235) That is news to me. I will search his citations for proof of that.

(W)hat happened in Kanawha County symbolized a national struggle. (236) AMEN! Conservatives today need to learn from and be inspired by the 1974 Tea Party. In 1974, it was about a county. Now it is about our country. (Protester Voices—The 1974 Textbook Tea Party, pg. 84)

4. Dr. Laats responded to my review. He wrote:

Years ago, when I journeyed down to Charleston, West Virginia to research chapter five, Karl Priest was kind enough to take time to talk with me about his memories of the 1974-75 textbook protest. We also talked about his ideas of evolution, creationism, Christianity, and proper education. Since the 1975 protests, Priest has been an educational activist. On his blog, he recently posted a detailed review of my book.

According to Mr. Priest, the book has some good parts, but it also misrepresents the conservative side of the 1974-75 protest. He is consistently kind to me personally, noting that I am “a gentleman and a scholar.” He also concludes by saying,

For anyone willing to study, Dr. Laats’s book provides a comprehensive history of major conservative battles against progressivism.

Mr. Priest also concedes that at some points I capture fairly the thinking of Kanawha County’s conservatives. But he warns that my liberal biases blind me to the truth of the Kanawha County textbook battle. He insists that I “intentionally slurred” the book protesters in the opening of chapter five.

For those who would like to read his detailed critique of my argument, Mr. Priest has added a section to the review in which he moves point by point through the chapter.

Is he correct? In a few cases, I think he makes valid points. For example, he notes that I awkwardly wrote that one protester prayed with a fellow inmate and “saved” him. As Mr. Priest points out, no protester would use such language. The child   was  saved, but through the power of God, not through the doings of the protester.

More often, however, I think Mr. Priest is blinded by his own partisan interests. I say it with great respect and with gratitude for the time Karl has spent talking with me. In general, however, I think he is overly convinced that the textbook protesters could do no wrong. He assumes too much about the radical nature of textbook supporters.

For instance, he writes that the National Educational Association was not a mainstream group, but rather “an outside left-wing extremist group.” That does not seem a fair statement. The NEA was indeed generally associated with left-of-center politics, but it was entirely within the mainstream of American politics and culture.

As an historian, I have to examine the evidence and come to conclusions about controversial events. Karl is entirely correct that I’m influenced by my own biases, even when I don’t think I am. I encourage readers to check out his review and chime in with their own thoughts.

I responded:

Putting aside Dr. Laats omission of the “ism” on evolution, I will address some key points of his response to my review of his excellent book.

(1.) I would insert “many” in front of “good parts.”

(2.) I would replace “some” with “most” points.

(3.) I omit my “partisan interests” so I am not “blinded” by them. However, I am the first to omit that the protesters (Courageous Corps of ’74) were not perfect. In the introduction of my book I wrote, “The protesters were not perfect people (xiii). The first chapter is completely devoted to the bad things that happened and, in fact, is entitled “The Bad (A Protester Perspective)”. In the chapter I deal directly with violence, racism, and censorship issues. What irks progressives is that I do so objectively with the agenda of telling the truth factually. I concluded the chapter with “… liberals are hypocritical for their incessant dwelling upon those few bad things. Liberals want to deflect the impact of the protesters’ points…”

(4.) I did not say the NEA was “not a mainstream group.” I said they were an outside left-wing group meaning outside of the area. The context was criticisms of outside right-wing groups butting into the protest.

(5.) It is noteworthy and praiseworthy that Dr. Laats agrees that he too is influenced by his own biases. That is a natural way for anyone to be. Very few admit it and take it into account when they write.