The state Board of Education has final say in this matter and clearly must overrule the committee at its November meeting. To do otherwise would be to let stand a decision that, in effect, says any goofball idea that can motivate a handful of misled citizens to protest may have veto power over the education of Georgia children. Children who, lest we forget, already are receiving one of the flat worst educations in the country, by many standard measurements.
At stake before the committee was the "Impressions" series of reading texts published by respected Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. It is generally well-regarded by educators and is being used by schools in 36 states; teachers say the series has excited pupisl about reading in a way few lessons do.
But lately a few of the more throwback quarters of Christian fundamentalism have managed to get it into their heads that the books teach "dark" thought and witchcraft and, thus, logic fans, are doing the work of satanism.
This is, of course, utter gibberish, just the latest of those occasional damn fool notions that, for obscure reasons, strike a spark that spreads like wildfire through the state's considerable forests of ignorance.
Twenty-two of the series' 822 stories (2.7 percent!) mention ghosts, goblins, witches or some such - all staples of children's literature since time immemorial and the very raw material of such classics as "The Wizard of Oz" and Grimm's fairy tales. And some pieces deal with serious themes - adoption, for instance.
Those are declared "dark," dangerously sinking tads into a gloom that will burden their minds for life and leave them vulnerable to the demonism that supposedly is the subtext of the series. It counts nothing with the hysterical adults that children in fact must sometimes deal with serious matters and that these texts encourage positive ways of doing that. And it did not matter with the quailing majority of the committee that Georgia was considering a revised version of the series that has eliminated many of the items that a few activists were protesting.
Charged with the solemn and, you would think, inspiring task of getting Georgia's children up to educational speed for the 21st century, the state textbook committee has instead brought back the book-burning and witch-hunting of the 16th.