Wednesday, November 10, 2004


A few weeks ago, my husband and I were amused by the wording on a form our daughter’s preschool sent home for us to fill out. Instead of asking for the name of her “mother’’ or ‘’father’’ or even her ‘’parents,’’ the form asked for the child’s ‘’sponsors.’’

Sponsors? As in . . . this child is brought to you by . . . ?!?

Smarmy Political Correctness oozed off that sheet. We just crossed it out and put ‘’mother’’ and ‘’father’’ by our names, and hoped it would make a quiet but firm point.

Over the years, I’ve become aware of other kinds of wording in school materials and textbooks that has gotten on the silly side. For instance, you never, ever see the word ‘’wife’’ in kiddie lit any more -- the feminists have expunged that word -- even though we all use the term freely and frequently in everyday life.

Even ‘’mother’’ is on the way out: the well-known children’s book, “Brown Bear,’’ has in recent years replaced the line, ‘’Mother, Mother, what do you see?’’ with ‘’Teacher, Teacher, what do you see?’’ The reason given: some children might not have a mother in the home and it would hurt their self-esteem to read that.

I don’t go for that hogwash. And what is it they say? If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!?! I suppose they want to change THAT to ‘’If an older individual of the female persuasion ain’t happy. . . .’’


So I was glad to see a plain and simple change involving the wording in textbooks that is being required by the Texas State Board of Education.

In a 10-4 vote Friday, that powerful ed board required secondary-level health textbooks used in Texas public schools to define marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The move was a rebuke to what one board member called ‘’asexual stealth phrases’’ such as references to ‘’individuals’’ who marry, and using the term ‘’married partners’’ instead of ‘’husband and wife.’’

Since Texas and many other states ban homosexual ‘’marriage’’ and grant no legal recognition to ‘’gay civil unions,’’ and also in light of the overwhelming victories at the polls last week for traditional marriage in several states, the board decided it would be stupid and silly to OK textbooks which imply to minor children that those sorts of arrangements are A-OK, legal, and on a par with traditional marriage.

Texas, the second most populous state after California, is one of the largest textbook purchasers in the world, and sets the tone for the rest of the country.

Nebraska does not have the same textbook review and adoption process as Texas has. There is considerably more freedom in Nebraska and many other states for locally-elected school boards to select textbook series to fit their preferences and guidelines.

However, when a change is made in a textbook because of a requirement in a large market state such as Texas or California, it is bound to trickle down and affect Nebraska eventually. In this case, that’s good.

Publishers which agreed to make the changes are among the nation’s largest: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, and Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

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