Steve: What inspired me to write from Crayons to Condoms is the incredible amount of frustration I sensed among parents. As chairman of the California State Assembly Education Committee, I was bombarded with letters from parents about the dismal state of their public schools and the refusal of school bureacrats to listen to their concerns.
I started to collect some of the worst stories and along with my co-author, Karen Holgate, we started thinking about putting them all together in a book. We made a first stab at the book over a decade ago and almost forgot about the project. Then about six months ago, I sent a rough draft to WND books and they loved it but wanted us to update it with some additional public school horror stories, which we did.
Karen: During the nineties, California implemented a new system of student testing called the California Learning Assessment System – or CLAS. This new “assessment system” focused on children’s attitudes, values, and beliefs rather than academic knowledge. When parents and grandparents learned about the invasive nature of the story prompts, and questions that delved into children’s and parents’ personal lives, they were outraged. As a grandmother with children in the public school system, I was one of those.
I found myself traveling to the state capitol in an effort to enlist the support of legislators to help stop CLAS. During this time, I also became aware of the federal legislation, Goals 2000 and School to Work (STW), which together appeared to encourage the type of paradigm shift that culminated in CLAS testing. The more I learned, the more alarmed I became. Soon I was traveling to Washington, D.C. to speak with members of Congress. As news about Goals 2000 and STW spread, I was surprised that I had become an “activist” and was traveling across the country speaking out about the troubling trend in education.
During this time, parents and teachers started telling me their stories and giving me examples of curricula, tests, and surveys that had nothing to do with academics. Some of the material was shocking in its graphic sexual depictions, while other examples were downright silly. For instance, one exercise told children to choose a tree, name it, visit it each day and talk to it – during school hours, of course. However, perhaps the scariest examples were those dealing with death education.
I had already met Steve Baldwin, then a California Assemblyman. Steve was the father of young boys whose primary concern was education. During one of my trips to Sacramento, I learned that he and I were hearing the same kinds of horror stories and the initial idea for a book was discussed.
After Steve term-limited out of office, he and his family moved to the east coast. However, we both have continued our interest in educational issues and our contact with parents. From Crayons to Condoms: The ugly truth about public education is a compilation of stories written by parents, teachers, and students. It is a tribute to those who have suffered as a result of laws passed by liberal legislators and educators who have their own agendas.
As Steve and I point out in the book, it is our hope that after reading From Crayons to Condoms that instead of saying, “That’s not happening in my child’s school,” parents will instead ask, “Is that happening in my child’s school?” We encourage parents to question what their children are being taught, to support good teachers and schools and to oppose that with which they disagree. The book gives positive steps parents can take to effectively fight when necessary.
Steven Baldwin and Karen Holgate are the authors of the nonfiction book, FROM CRAYONS TO CONDOMS: THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS. You can visit their publisher’s website at www.wnd.com.