Another Great (Conservative Christian) Textbook War

| 3/12/2010 3:07:18 PM

A thankful nod to American RadioWorks and Third Coast International Audio Festival for digging up Trey Kay’s audio documentary “The Great Textbook War” in the midst of shiver-inducing news from Texas, where right-wing activists who dominate the Texas Board of Education are attempting to rewrite U.S. textbook curricula.

The audio documentary revisits the 1974 national media frenzy over one West Virginia school board’s deliberations on which textbooks to employ, pivoting on conservative Christian belief systems. Violent protests ensued and vehement coverage spread through national media outlets for months.

The listening experience here is rich, thanks to a deep well of archived press recordings and original interviews. Kay’s biography also informs the story: He was a seventh grade student in Kanawha County when the war broke out. It didn’t matter then, or now, that Kanawha’s population is slight, around 191,000 in 2008, even though it houses the state’s capitol: America loves the allegory of its small-town self demonstrating the sentiments and antics of the country as a whole. But when the sediment of media flurry settles, the ’74 textbook war and the current battle in Texas are both debates about degrees of mediating information and opinions in the school's domain. One Kanawa parent testifying on tape in 1974 hits a resonant note in each era’s textbook war: “If I have been successful as a parent, nothing my children can read in school will hurt them.”

Related Reading:
Revisionaries,” Washington Monthly
How Christian were the Founders?” New York Times Magazine

Related Listening:
Textbook Diplomacy, Part One & Two,” BBC World Service Documentaries

6/16/2010 6:17:37 PM

The Texas situation is merely a teacup compared to the 1974 textbook teapot. See

Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

Facebook Instagram Twitter

click me