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Textbook War


The first book to tell the story of the protest from the words of the protesters is PROTESTER VOICES--The 1974 Textbook Tea Party.

The Thirty Years War

by Al Benson Jr. 2004

Thirty years ago this year an event occurred in West Virginia which has been pretty much shoved down the historical memory hole. Everyone from the government school bureaucracy to the leftist media wanted to make sure no one remembered this event, lest someone who did might initiate a repeat performance somewhere else in the country. In the summer of 1974 the school board for Kanawha County, West Virginia chose a set of textbooks that were to go into the Kanawha County schools that Fall. There was some pretty raunchy stuff in many of those textbooks, even by today's loose standards, and one lady on the school board, Alice Moore, had real problems with the material. She went home and told her husband about the questionable books. Her husband happened to be a preacher. After seeing some of what was to be foisted upon the children of Kanawha County under the guise of "education" Rev. Moore preached about it from his pulpit and the Kanawha County textbook protest was off and running.

Other ministers soon stepped forward to lead the protest.

The protesters in Kanawha County, in order to keep this material out of the schools there, did several things. They bought an ad in the Charleston newspaper with some excerpts from the books in question in it so the public at large would be aware of what was going on in the schools. Then they did a novel thing. They picketed all the government schools in the Kanawha Valley. West Virginia was a union state, with all the coal mines there, and so not too many people would cross a picket line. What this accomplished was to basically shut down the government school system there. Almost no one would cross a picket line, either to go to school or to deliver supplies, or for any normal reason. And shut down the schools it did - for several weeks. Some government schools which normally had hundreds of students daily found that, after the picketing began, there were maybe four or five students that showed up.

There were a couple big protest parades in Charleston, with thousands of parents marching and carrying signs protesting the schools and the books. And what was bad for the government school system there was that the whole situation became so explosive that the national media found it had to report something about it, lest people outside of Kanawha County hear about it, which was beginning to happen, and wonder where the "news" media was all the time. So the situation there finally made it into the national, and even the international news. However the media took pains to paint the protesters with the blackest possible brush, to make them all look like bomb-tossing anarchists and overt racists. Now admittedly, some of those types showed up, but they did not reflect the genuine concerns of the vast majority of the parents involved.

At one point the parents had the government educrats over a barrel - until the educrats grudgingly admitted that that might be some problems with some of the textbooks - but they had a way to solve that knotty problem. They would have all the books reviewed if the protesters would just get off their backs and give them a month's moratorium to get the review done. The government school educrats understood the nature of their adversaries much better than the protesters understood the nature of theirs. The protesters agreed to the moratorium. The month came and went and at the end of that time the school board announced that the books had been reviewed and nothing was found wrong with them, and so back into the government schools they went.

There was a good bit of complaining, but in giving the educrats their month's moratorium the textbook protesters had also given the situation time to cool down for their supporters and the initial ardor of many of the protesters was gone. A great many of them ended up putting their kids back into the government schools, with the same lousy textbooks, and all their efforts were for naught. There were some that, thankfully, refused to go that route and several new Christian schools were started in the Kanawha Valley, so I guess you could say that the whole episode was not without some success, but it wasn't by any means the success it could and should have been.

The protest limped along for another several months, with protest leaders planning several events in an attempt to rekindle the fires of protest, but, to all intents and purposes, it was finished when the protesters agreed to the moratorium, and the school board understood this. For all the furor this event caused when it occurred, today, thirty years later, almost no one remembers it. To Christians, homeschoolers, and patriots it isn't even a faint memory anymore, when it should be remembered as part of their history - a major incident, among others, to demonstrate to them what they are fighting both for and against.

This past week, I read an article from the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. It was an article about a school in Wilmington, North Carolina that has a book in its school library about a prince who married, not the princess, as in most normal stories, but rather another prince. According to the news article "The book ends with the princes marrying and sharing a kiss." Sick? You bet, but apparently standard fare now for libraries in government schools. One first grader who took the book out took it home and her parents are just livid over this sort of trash being in the school's library for their youngster to pick up and bring home.

The school librarian noted that this book had been on the school library's shelf since early last year. And the principal of the school, to defend this, said "What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing." In other words, if sin is alright for some you just go ahead and endorse it! The librarian said she couldn't comment on the book because she hadn't seen it. Makes you wonder who ordered the book, doesn't it? She declined to state whether she knowingly picked out a book on homosexual "marriage." The family that has the book said they are keeping it until they get some kind of assurance from the school that such a book won't be circulated further.

Folks, don't hold your breath! The librarian said the book has to be returned, and if it is under question, it will need to be "reviewed." Sound familiar? How much would you like to bet that this book, like those years ago in Kanawha County, West Virginia, will be "reviewed" and then pronounced acceptable for the school library, and back it will go. And where will the complaining parents be? They will be forced to accept what the Bible labels as sin because, as the school principal says, what's "inappropriate" for some might not be for others! And that's how the game works, and it has been working that way for at least thirty years - an entire generation.

Here we sit, thirty years later, still playing the same game by the government educrats' rules and always losing. We are spinning our wheels and not one bit further ahead than we were in 1974 regarding what government schools perpetrate upon the children of those forced to pay for them. We are still at square one because people, in spite of all that has gone on, can not see the need to remove their children from this indoctrination system we refer to as a "public" school system. How many other places across the country has this charade been played out in the past thirty years that no one has heard about? The government schools have continued to play this game over and over - and almost nobody seems to get the message. The prophet Hosea, in the Old Testament, stated "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." How right he was - and the destruction continues to this day! 


Also see other related articles by Al Benson at Thirty Six Years Later the Beat Goes On and “The 1974 Textbook Tea Party”--The book that tells the truth about it.