A Times editorial (Aug. 20), “See the Busy Book-Burners,” implied that Eagle Forum, a national organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, is engaged in “censorship in the nation’s public schools” and “efforts to ban books” based on “educational agendas aimed at tailoring students’ thinking to their point of view.” Had The Times’ editorial writer contacted Mrs. Schlafly, he would have learned that Eagle Forum actively promotes balanced presentations of subject matter, an emphasis on academic subjects, and parental involvement in the education of their children, not censorship.
Moreover, Eagle Forum would concur with The Times that “political agendas have no place in the public schools, and efforts to impose them must be resisted whenever and wherever they occur.” The problem is that political agendas are already being imposed in many public school classrooms, which frequently censor traditional moral values and conservative political ideas. Hearings by the Department of Education across the nation in March, 1984, brought out hundreds of students, parents and teachers who expressed outrage at what can only be described as psychological abuse of children in the classroom in activities extending far beyond academic instruction.
Eagle Forum’s response has not been to censor curricula, as The Times intimates. Rather, we have formed a Stop Censorship Committee to assure a balanced treatment of subject matter in public schools, developed a reading curriculum based on the highly effective phonics method, supported the Hatch Amendment passed by Congress in 1978 and similar state legislation, which require that parental approval be obtained before minor students are subjected to tests, surveys or problems that seek to elicit from students their personal beliefs concerning sensitive moral, political, religious or family matters, and supported tuition tax credits or similar benefits for parents who choose private or home education as an alternative to public education. Without such support, these alternatives are available only to the wealthy.
The Times is “troubled” because “nearly one-fourth of (the book banning) is spurred by outside groups aligned with the New Right.” Why is The Times not concerned with the three-fourths coming from other sources? Since there was no attempt to contact Eagle Forum, one can only conclude that the editorial was nothing but a poor attempt to slur an organization that frequently disagrees with The Times’ editorial policy.
JO ELLEN ALLEN
Allen is president of the Eagle Forum of California.