Critical Review of Battleground
In Battleground, Stephen Bates narrates the account of a court case in a small Tennessee town. The court case started with a mother helping her child with a reading assignment. This mother could not believe what she was reading. This mother?s name was Vicki Frost, who was a home keeper. Frost went to the school and told the principal what she thought about the books. She believed that the books went against everything she taught her children. She believed Satan wrote these books. She took her children out of class during reading time, from that point on. When the school told her that her children would fail if they didn?t attend class, Frost was astounded. After many battles with the local school, she took her case to court. The school said the books were appropriate for the children to read, and if parents did not agree they could transfer their children to another school. Both sides had different organizations backing them. The case gained national attention. The federal court sided with the school district in the end, but Vicki Frost did raise attention on how schoolbooks are chosen for our public schools.
The book by Stephen Bates brings up a very controversial issue, should parents be able to control what their children read in public schools. Bates does not criticize either side during this book. Bates does a good job narrating the book giving good details and letting the reader make his/her own decision. Vicki Frost is a parent who does not want her kids reading books that contradict her families beliefs. Frost did the right thing by addressing the school about this problem. I could not decide which side I agree with while reading the book. Both sides made good arguments against each other. Men who believed in God founded this country. "IN God WE Trust" is on federal property that we use everyday, but the school system sometimes teach something different.
I agree with Frost that parents should control what public schools teach their children. Parents pay taxes, which fund public schools and pay teachers salaries. But public schools can not have different classes for different religions groups either. The Holts Books are like many other books; people get different understandings of the books. People think different, so people will translate the meaning of books differently. I also have to agree with the school district as well. Hawkins County has spent a lot of money on their educational system, and some lady with no college background is questioning the system. I believe the school district did not know what to think of the situation at first, but when a mother starts pulling her children out of class, "what can they do?" This would not be fair if the school district let the Frost children skip class and still get credit for the class. The school district talked to Frost almost everyday about the situation. Neither side would change their mind during this time. I believe that the suspension was a little extreme.
I didn?t like how the school board handled the case. The board did not want a lady with no college education, to question their judgement. The board should have tried to solve this problem with Mrs. Frost before it gained national attention. Mrs. Frost would not have been satisfied with any of their suggestions, but they should have treated her with a little respect.
Bates mentions the New England Primer, which was the first widely, used textbooks in America. The New England Primer used stories from the Bible and about morality. But the separation of the Church and State put an end to this book. If public schools cannot teach Christian values, they should not teach any other religious values. This was what Frost was trying to make people understand. Her children were reading stories about Indians, Jews, Hindus, and other cultures, but they could not learn about their own culture except at home or church.
I believe the parents should teach their children their own values and beliefs at home. If children read stories about other children cheating, lying, stealing, or other unmoral things the children should know the difference in right and wrong. If the books teach inmoral principals and say that it is right, then this is where the books should be banned from public schools. It is unfair to a Christian child to learn about other religions in school, when he/she can not learn about their religion. This is what the federal system is trying decide in the Frost case.
The Battleground brings out a very controversial issue. Should public school have the books approved by the parents and if parents don?t agree, should their children be excused from the class. I really don?t know what side I really agree with, because both sides have really strong arguments in their favor. I agree with public school cannot teach about religion because of the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment states that religion should play no role in anything that is state supported. I also believe that Christianity as well as other religion should have no place in public schools, unless it is student lead. My reason for this is that so many people have their own beliefs, that if one religion is taught, the school is discriminating against the other religions. I believe those good morals and values should be taught at home, but they should not be taught at school. I believe that teachers should practice using good moral and values around students. This topic will always be a controversial issue, because there is really no right or wrong to the Frost case. If parents want their children to get a good Christian education, their children will have to be home schooled or sent to a Christian school. I wish this wasn?t the case, but of the 1st Amendment it must be this way.
Levinson, Sanford. Michigan Law Review. May 1994. Pgs. 1873-1892.