Currie Spices Up the Classroom Debate

, Tony Perkins, 2 Comments

Once upon a time, there was a teacher who undermined parents’ rights. Sound familiar? It should. This has become a common story in classrooms across America, as more liberal teachers latch on to kids’ books with homosexual themes. But for moms and dads in North Carolina, the news that their third graders were listening to gay fairy tales didn’t have the happy ending teacher Omar Currie hoped for.

A homosexual himself, the elementary school teacher thought the book King and King would encourage his class to treat others with respect. What he didn’t count on was the overwhelming feeling of disrespect parents felt when they weren’t consulted first. In the book, a crown prince rejects one princess after another until he falls in love with another man. The two marry, and the rest is supposedly history. Now, after a statewide controversy, Currie is history too. The teacher quit his job after weeks of backlash and district meetings. “I’m resigning because when me and my partner sat down and talked about it, we felt I wasn’t going to have the support I needed to move forward at Efland,” he said. “It’s very disappointing.”

Hours after he read the story to his class, Efland-Cheeks’s principal called Currie and asked for a meeting the next morning. Three parents had filed formal complaints, and within weeks, started a movement to remove the book from Orange County Schools completely. “When I read the story,” Currie admitted, “the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind.” And that’s exactly the problem. If parents are going to entrust the moral and academic training of their children to government schools, then they need to be involved in what’s being taught. In this case, Currie took it upon himself to bypass families and introduce a controversial subject to eight-year-olds without even warning school officials.

As a result, 200 people turned out at a district meeting to demand the book be taken out of district classrooms. Twice, the committees voted to keep it. And while parents didn’t succeed in ousting King and King, they did manage to get a heads-up about what books are being taught. Under a new directive, teachers are required to submit a list of books teachers intend to read to students.

Fortunately in this case, school administrators were responsive to parents’ concerns. As David Parker will tell you, that’s not always the case. Back in 2004, he and his wife objected to the same book being read to his elementary school-aged son, and he was hauled off to jail for his objections! Like a growing number of moms and dads, the Parkers realized that it was time to consider other alternatives to public schools.

At some point, we have to step back and ask the question, “What is the purpose of school?” When did it stop being about the education of children and start becoming about political indoctrination?

Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.