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Critical Review: Battleground Stephen Bates Battleground is a non fictional book that tells the story of a protest, by a group of parents against what they see as? secular humanism? in a public school reading series designed for elementary, middle and high school students. The protest eventually turned into a lawsuit in 1983 known as Modern, who was the leader of the group that was protesting (COBS), versus the Hawkins county board of education.
The book begins by describing how the protest began from the beginning. A child, Sarah Frost, had some trouble with her school work and asked her mother, Vicki Frost, to help her. As Vicki read through the textbook she found that some of the stories were contrary to what her religion taught her, so she made some phone calls and eventually found a group of people who shared her same beliefs and offense to the readers. Eventually she and her friend Jennie Wilson were able to stir up enough people to attend an emergency meeting, where they explained their problems with the Holt readers to anyone who was interested, which at that point was not many people.
Frost and Wilson were persistent. They went to the school board meeting and further explained their opposition of the readers to the school board, but they were ignored by the school board. They were discouraged, but they fought for their cause and continues to try to work with the principals and teachers of their children; while in the meantime they formed a group they called Citizens Organized for Better Schools, or COBS. They had meetings regularly and were able to get some of their? suggestions?
recognized by the school board, but they were never able to achieve their main goal of Gadson 2 making alternate school books available for the children who? s faith was? burdened? by the Holt readers. Their efforts eventually resulted in the jailing of Vicki Frost, which made a lawsuit unavoidable in their eyes. The end result (after two large organizations, the Concerned Women for America, and the People for the American Way became not only involved, but the actual voice if the litigants), three years later, was a decision that the children would be able to?
opt-out? of the offensive reading class and be home schooled on the one subject, but still attend regular classes for the rest of the day. This decision was later overturned after an appeal. Stephen Bates tells this story in an almost fictional type way, so it is easy to forget that this is a true story, and did not take place long ago, but Bates reminds the reader of the reality during his detailed and lengthy interludes and in one case an entire chapter on the history of education and the separation of church and state. His details, though they might seem boring to anyone who is not really interested in the history of education, does bring validity to many of the issues. The main issue of this book is the first amendment.
Both sides of the argument had valid issues. Frost, although I did not see the Witchcraft, Hinduism or any other anti-Christian suggestions in the passages that were mentioned in the book, had every right to state that she did not want her children reading these books, she is a parent and her and her husband have the responsibility of raising her children in a way that they feel thinks is moral and religious. It is a shame that someone in Frost? s situation, with a valid argument, would have to worry that the school might teach her children the exact opposite of what she is trying to teach them.
The school board and others continued to ask why she wouldn? t put her children in a private Christian school, but why should she have to pay for education when part of her taxes are already going toward what should be a decent education for her children? Gadson 3 At the same time, the mere fact that she is not directly paying for the education of her education puts her in a position where she has to keep an open mind. The passages that she was opposed to were ridiculous. They were fictional stories, they were not the wicca creed. Anyone can see irreligious suggestions in almost anything.
How does the court decide what is really? secular humanism? or implications of any religion? All judges and textbook sorters would have to be well read in all religions, this is nearly impossible. The only thing they can do is read the textbooks and reject any with seriously religious overtones. It is really hard to take a stand on either side for someone like me.
I can see almost any point of view when it is explained in detail, but leaving the book alone and just speaking on the issues I would have to say that religion does not have a place in public school. Even if a prayer might be as watered down as the one in the book, that you read aloud in class on Tuesday, there are too many different strands of religion to try to include them all, so try not to include any, and the courts must decided what is acceptable and what is not.
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