I did not write the following partial book review, but Christene did an excellent job! I have not finished it yet, but am appalled at what I HAVE read so far! She has accurately described what I have read so far. This was on the internet when I googled the book. Since there is advice on what we can do in Part 4 of the book, I will skip to that next so I can report to the next Education Committee Meeting.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
First Thoughts about “From Crayons to Condoms”
Posted by christinemm at 10:31 AM
I purchased “From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth about America’s Public Schools” without knowing much about it. It was a new book with no Amazon customer reviews yet. The book was being praised by Conservative talk show hosts at the time.
I’ve read half of the book and skimmed the ending and thought I’d share some thoughts; this is not a full book review.
If you have heard anything said by critics of the American public education system you have heard certain buzzwords. If you are Christian or listening to what some Christian leaders are saying you know some other buzz words. Maybe you, like me, wondered if this was really true or are these just empty accusations of angry people looking to find fault with a system they don’t like (for whatever reason).
This book gives concrete examples of what is going on in schools today, specifically regarding curriculum choices, books used in the classroom and teaching methods, to provide proof that these things are happening in the schools today: indoctrination, social engineering, dumbing down (“sliding American standards”).
Information is given to show bias against Christianity, support for and mandatory practice of other religion’s rituals inside the classroom and numerous teachings that go against Christian values. If that doesn’t bother you, perhaps the fact that there are laws about what is not allowed to be taught in schools and that those laws are routinely being broken not just by rogue teachers but in using approved curriculum and curriculum sometimes funded with grants from taxpayer dollars.
This book has two authors (Steve Baldwin and Karen Holgate) but most of the writings are from educators, parents and students sharing their real life experiences. These are not vague stories. They are well-written and although some contain strong opinions it is well-founded, these are not just dramatic ramblings based on imagined scenarios.
The stories clearly outline what the student was exposed to or what the teacher was being forced to teach, naming curriculums, programs and books. In the cases where students complained or the parents got involved to complain and try to make changes those stories are explained as well. Those stories then become an explanation of how many times concerns of parents (and teachers, and students) fall on deaf ears and how hard it is to make changes (or to even get the school administrators to comply with laws).
The book is not just a book of complaints and scary stories. The last chapter (nine pages) gives an action plan for parents to want to make changes. This information is meaty and has information I’ve never known about such as how to write up issues with the laws, where to read the laws, and how to do a Freedom of Information request. The appendix also lists resources to learn more about the programs and curriculums that are being used in public school programs (i.e. is that math curriculum actually working or what does that curriculum teach about sex education).
There are four parts to the book.
In Part One: “Sliding Academic Standards” there is a chapter about social engineering which actually focuses mostly on teaching math and the very different math that is being taught today compared to 1980s and previously.
Another chapter focuses on what books (literature) are being used in both regular and advanced placement English classes.
Another chapter discusses self-esteem promotion and how that manifests itself in the classroom. In “Psychological Molestation” they discuss something called “death education” which begins in grades two or three and is just unbelievable.
Part Two, “Psychological Molestation” has chapters that discuss a number of things that you may be surprised are going on in the classroom such as time-in alone in a room with an adult, use of profanity, and hypnotizing students.
A chapter about sex education tells in detail exactly what is being taught in schools today including what would be labeled x-rated and also what is being taught about homosexuality, promiscuity and also providing false information exaggerating ‘safe sex’ methods. Of course the mention that abstinence is not respected or really taught is touched upon.
That is as far as I’ve gotten with the book, having finished the first two parts and skimmed the ending advice on what parents can do if they want to take action.
To say I am shocked to hear what is really going on in the classrooms is an understatement. To learn that often parents of the students have no clue what is being taught, what books are being read and so on seems crazy to me.
I used to think that school today is just like it was when I attended in the 1970s and 1980s but now I know that how and what I was taught are light years away from what is going on in the schools today.
Because I homeschool my children and because I plan our own curriculum (not relying on a company selling a ‘complete package by grade level”), I am always thinking of what it means to be educated, what a child should know now and by the time they apply to college. I am faced with many possibilities of what and how to home educate my children and there are so many options it sometimes is overwhelming. I am interested in what the public schools are doing so I can at least make sure my children are not ‘behind’.
I also wonder if for some reason I choose to stop homeschooling, what public schools are like and how well my children will transition over from learning the content I selected and the method versus what the public schools are doing. Those are some reasons why I am reading this book. However I am so surprised by what I am reading that I have a re-affirmed commitment to homeschooling and hope my children never enter this warped and crazy school system.
This book provides newer information and very detailed information that is absent from older books about education reform written by John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, and James Herndon. If you want an idea what is happening in schools RIGHT NOW read this book. It seems that there have been swift changes in the last 15 years or so.
Formerly the book that addressed the issue of ‘what schools should be teaching’ and ‘how parents can and should get involved’ was “The Educated Child”. In that book the authors laid out what they felt a child should be learning in each grade (using Hirsh’s Core Knowledge sequence as a backbone). I was disappointed in that book because they overly emphasized that the solution for parents not happy with their child’s school was to move to a new town with a ‘better school’ which is not always easy for homeowners! The other advice was to use the voucher system to go to a better school—well that is not really a system that is in place all over America so it is impossible advice for many Americans. “From Crayons to Condoms” gives information that is more do-able and may affect change (although many parents in the book had given up and withdrew their students, mostly to enroll them in private school and others to homeschool).
FROM CRAYONS TO CONDOMS is easy to read and it is a fast read. It has footnotes to document the sources of information such as naming specific curriculums, medical studies and media stories that further discuss the topic.
If you want concrete information about problems in public schools right here and now in America read this book. If you are looking to have your head spin read this book!