Curious George, the Sexist Monkey

May 27, 1993

In the recently concluded review of 200 new books to be used in Carroll County public schools next year, we have again witnessed the morally correct and the politically correct trying to impose their views on the rest of the population.

The 90-member Carroll County Curriculum Council decided to remove temporarily eight books from consideration for school use due to parental objections. Parents complained about magic and witchcraft in children's fantasy books, about racial stereotyping in books that describe the civil rights movement and about sexual stereotyping in an updated childhood classic.

It is worth noting that the texts that caused the most stir were not the books assigned for use in classrooms. In order to please school boards across the nation, textbook publishers have routinely eliminated virtually any potentially controversial material. Carroll parents, instead, focused their objections on books that appear on supplemental reading lists.

None of the eight books under question is blatantly offensive. Parents objected because these stories don't reinforce their own political or social agendas -- be it opposition to magic or promotion of feminism.

Not many books would survive the reading between the lines to which these works are subjected in Carroll.

One parent objected to Ruth Chew's "The Magic of the Black Mirror" because it dealt with "wizardry and magic." Does that mean the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable or Snow White are no longer fit for schoolchildren to read and enjoy?

Another parent said that the book "Curious George Goes to School" wasn't acceptable because all the girls wore dresses, reinforcing negative sexual stereotypes. If that criteria is applied to other books, then Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" is unsuitable because the little girl wears a dress (not to mention the fact the mother in the story could be charged with neglect for leaving her kids at home alone.)

The guidelines for books used in school should be whether they are age-appropriate, well-written, well-illustrated and augment the classroom instruction. This over-sanitization will result in reading lists full of insipid and uninspiring books that will ultimately discourage students from reading. And what will they do with their time? Watch the fine offerings on television.

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