As schoolbells summoned students back to classes this fall, they also sounded the call for another round of controversy over the adoption of public-school textbooks and curricular materials.

The latest blow comes in a new report by People for the American Way (PAW), which says that due to the activities of “the Far Right and Religious Right splinter groups,” the number of “censorship attempts and other challenges to public education” rose significantly last year. In response, Christian groups involved in educational issues vehemently deny censorship charges and say the numbers reveal merely that more parents are trying to have a say in their children’s education.

Released last month, the PAW report, “Attacks on the Freedom to Learn,” lists 244 incidents across the United States in which textbooks or curriculum materials were challenged by parents or concerned community groups. In 1989, PAW, which was formed ten years ago to counter conservative groups such as the Moral Majority, listed 172 incidents.

“The censorship movement in America is flourishing,” said PAW president Arthur Kropp at a Washington news conference held to release the report. “In addition to continuing attacks on library books, plays, or supplemental reading, we’re now seeing a resurgent Far Right assault on entire curricula. The plain truth is that these extremists are frightened by ideas and unimpressed by facts.”

Kropp highlighted controversies over the Holt, Rinehart and Winston reading series Impressions, which he said has been opposed in 21 communities around the country. “ ‘Impressions’ has become the target of the biggest mobilization of Far Right and Religious Right censorship groups since we began tracking incidents in 1982,” Kropp said. He said several ...

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