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Readin’, ritin’ and righteous indignation

February 9, 2010

FROM CRAYONS TO CONDOMS: THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Edited by Steve Baldwin and Karen Holgate

WorldNetDaily Books, 2008

When you become a parent, people just love filling your head with nonsense. No one ever tells you “Parenting will be endless bliss from one moment to the next,” choosing instead to focus on all the unpleasantness that lies ahead: sleepless nights, endless dirty diapers, teething, potty training, the terrible twos, temper tantrums, cleaning up hot dog laced vomit, not getting a single moment to yourself for at least ten years straight, stretched finances, snotty adolescence, the sullen teenage years, and in the end your child will grow up needing therapy and blaming it all on you, no matter how hard you try to be a good parent. However, what they usually fail to tell you about is the one true, inescapable hindrance to fully enjoying parenthood: other parents.

While childfree people can sometimes be smug, self-satisfied asswipes, parents are an altogether different breed of cat, self-righteous, judgmental, hypocritical and downright hostile when it comes to the choices other parents make for their children. When you become a parent, no, scratch that, when you become a mother, prepare to have every decision you make about raising your child scrutinized by other mothers aching to feel above someone. Breastfeeding, circumcision, cloth or disposable diapering, whether to let your child cry himself to sleep or not, attachment parenting, when to introduce solid foods, it’s all up for discussion, particularly on the internet, and more often than not the women whose parenting skills are being questioned find themselves lacking somewhere. It’s not all that different from the trial General Zod and his cohorts go through before they’re sentenced to the Phantom Zone in Superman II.

Alas, it doesn’t end once your children start school. In fact, children reaching school age seems to be when a lot of mothers’ previously dormant neurotic, control freak tendencies kick into maximum overdrive. It’s at that point that they become convinced that any outside influences on their offspring are potentially destructive, that no matter what they always know what’s best. What’s more, they not only know what’s best for their child, but for your child as well. This is when women with way too much time on their hands start going on “crusades,” often using faulty science such as “vaccines cause autism” and “peanuts will kill everyone” to back them up. Their weapons are e-mail lists and cell phones, and they’ll insist that if you really cared about your child, you’d join her in her crusade to remove Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl from school libraries because it mentions the word “vagina” in it.

From Crayons to Condoms is a book for these women. It’s a book for misguided, gullible schnooks who believe those urban legends and tall tales that are sent to them in e-mail forwards. They believe that their children will get stabbed with a hepatitis-infected needle if they play in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. They believe that there are thugs hiding under their cars just waiting for the opportunity to hamstring them with a straight razor. Hell, they even still believe that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. And, of course, they believe everything they read and see in the media, particularly if it’s bad and/or salacious. In short: the typical Fox News viewer.

The book is essentially a collection of fairly ludicrous horror stories about the sins public schooling inflicts upon innocent children. You know public schooling, that insidious boogeyman decent people have been battling since time immemorial, even though millions of kids have gone through it for decades now and turned out pretty okay. From Crayons to Condoms suggests that ever since God was replaced by political correctness, children who attend public school end up drooling, illiterate cretins who can’t put a sentence together, because the teachers are too busy encouraging them to accept people who are different from them. Supposedly submitted by upset parents, here’s a sampling of some of the unspeakable tortures our young, impressionable minds have been subjected to by these so-called “educators.”

  • A high school teacher encouraging her students to come to her if they had any problems they needed to get off their chests.
  • Being shown a film that encourages children to keep money on their person so that, rather than having to ride home with a parent who’s been drinking, they can call someone else to come get them. Says the parent who submitted the complaint: “A child in this predicament might actually be in less danger riding with the inebriated parent than defying him.”
  • Having to study the book Ordinary People, about a teenage boy’s struggle with depression. The parent’s complaint? Her son had been having his own issues with depression, and the school should have changed the entire class’s curriculum to accommodate him.
  • Having to study a unit on female genital mutilation.
  • High school age students reading literature that makes even indirect references to sexuality, violence and/or rape.
  • Taking part in a lecture on suicide prevention. The parent’s complaint? Merely hearing about the concept of suicide drove her teenage daughter to become suicidal.
  • Being encouraged to embrace the concept of “multiculturalism.” The parent’s complaint? Teaching children diversity is un-American and suggests that there is more than one way to worship the Lord.

Then of course, there’s the inevitable “They taught my children evolution!” “They taught my children about sex!” “They let my child read a Harry Potter book!” “They taught my children about other cultures and religions without emphasizing that America and Christianity is number one!” and so on and so forth. Naturally, the largest amount of pearl clutching and monocle dropping is over our good buddy The Homosexual Agenda, which is worming its way into our children’s brains through such wily tactics as The Laramie Project and high schools allowing gay students to form support clubs. In virtually all the stories, the parents claim that their attempts to question what the schools are teaching their children were either shrugged off, laughed off or met with outright hostility, because public schools just don’t respect those poor, oppressed white Christians and their values.  The insistence that educators are “biased” against Christians is repeated so many times that it becomes a mantra of sorts, until it becomes as absurd a claim as the idea that atheists are trying to take Christmas away from salt of the Earth believers.

So what’s a “concerned parent” to do if they don’t want their children to be taught that a world exists outside their own home? Well, the book suggests that you become one of those annoying people who refuses to sign documents and school forms and constantly demands meetings with teachers, administrators and school board members until they change all their policies to suit your beliefs, even if those beliefs don’t likely mesh with the majority of other parents. Most of the parents who contributed stories ended up taking their children out of school altogether, before they could sink any further into the godless, degenerate quagmire of public education. That’s often suggested as a “solution” if you feel that your little Max or Madison is just too much of a delicate, special flower for public school, just send them to private school, or better yet, teach them yourself, that way you can be assured that they’ll learn only what you want them to learn, which for these people is probably limited to Jesus, basic math skills and maybe some reading, though only what pertains to the Bible.

Gentle Readers, I have a confession to make: I didn’t read this book all the way through. I read some of the stories, charting their progression from the merely questionable to outright steaming horseshit. I had to flag myself when I got to one mother’s claim that her son was told that not only could he not read his copy of the Bible in school, he was ordered to leave it at home, even though his classmates were being “indoctrinated” into Islam. It’s a myth that the Bible is not permitted in public schools, just as it’s a myth that students are not allowed to pray.  Students can pray all they like, they can pray before the math final, they can pray before the big game, they can pray that the cafeteria isn’t going to serve meat loaf again.  The only thing that is not permitted is teachers or administrators leading students in prayer.  Yet naive parents who have their heads filled with scary stories about Christian oppression and the destruction of family values by people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson continue to operate on half-truths and misinformation.

From Crayons to Condoms is one of those books, implausible as much of it sounds, that reminds me of just how far from the same page I am with conservative Christians. It’s story after story of hysterical parents and their pussified kids who were supposedly traumatized by the sight of a bare breast or at the realization that the world may not always be the Happy Fun Bear Awesome Time they were raised to believe it was. When would it be a good time for a young person to discover the existence of such unpleasant aspects of life as rape and suicide? When it happens to someone they know? Or to them, perhaps? If any of these people suggested that they’d rather be the ones to have those difficult discussions with their children, rather than teachers, that’d be one thing, but the message that comes across is that they don’t want their children being exposed to that kind of thing at all. After all, look what good came out of their patron saint Sarah Palin’s refusal to allow her children any other sex education but abstinence-based. Pretending things don’t exist–gays, premarital sex, people who worship God a different way–is the most important lesson of all.

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