Battleground Review

Critical Review: Battleground
Stephen Bates Battleground is a non fictional book that tells the story of a protest,
by a group of parents against what they see as “secular humanism” in a public school
reading series designed for elementary, middle and high school students. The protest
eventually turned into a lawsuit in 1983 known as Mozert, who was the leader of the
group that was protesting (COBS), versus the Hawkins county board of education.
The book begins by describing how the protest began from the beginning. A child,
Sarah Frost, had some trouble with her school work and asked her mother, Vicki Frost, to
help her. As Vicki read through the textbook she found that some of the stories were
contrary to what her religion taught her, so she made some phone calls and eventually
found a group of people who shared her same beliefs and offense to the readers.
Eventually she and her friend Jennie Wilson were able to stir up enough people to attend
an emergency meeting, where they explained their problems with the Holt readers to
anyone who was interested, which at that point was not many people.
Frost and Wilson were persistent. They went to the school board meeting and
further explained their opposition of the readers to the school board, but they were
ignored by the school board. They were discouraged, but they fought for their cause and
continues to try to work with the principals and teachers of their children; while in the
meantime they formed a group they called Citizens Organized for Better Schools, or
COBS. They had meetings regularly and were able to get some of their “suggestions”
recognized by the school board, but they were never able to achieve their main goal of

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making alternate school books available for the children who’s faith was “burdened” by
the Holt readers. Their efforts eventually resulted in the jailing of Vicki Frost, which
made a lawsuit unavoidable in their eyes.
The end result (after two large organizations, the Concerned Women for America,
and the People for the American Way became not only involved, but the actual voice if
the litigants), three years later, was a decision that the children would be able to
“opt-out” of the offensive reading class and be home schooled on the one subject, but
still attend regular classes for the rest of the day. This decision was later overturned after
an appeal.
Stephen Bates tells this story in an almost fictional type way, so it is easy to forget
that this is a true story, and did not take place long ago, but Bates reminds the reader of
the reality during his detailed and lengthy interludes and in one case an entire chapter on
the history of education and the separation of church and state. His details, though they
might seem boring to anyone who is not really interested in the history of education, does
bring validity to many of the issues.
The main issue of this book is the first amendment. Both sides of the argument
had valid issues. Frost, although I did not see the Witchcraft, Hinduism or any other
anti-Christian suggestions in the passages that were mentioned in the book, had every
right to state that she did not want her children reading these books, she is a parent and
her and her husband have the responsibility of raising her children in a way that they feel
thinks is moral and religious. It is a shame that someone in Frost’s situation, with a valid
argument, would have to worry that the school might teach her children the exact
opposite of what she is trying to teach them. The school board and others continued to
ask why she wouldn’t put her children in a private Christian school, but why should she
have to pay for education when part of her taxes are already going toward what should be
a decent education for her children?
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At the same time, the mere fact that she is not directly paying for the education of
her education puts her in a position where she has to keep an open mind. The passages
that she was opposed to were ridiculous. They were fictional stories, they were not the
wicca creed. Anyone can see irreligious suggestions in almost anything. How does the
court decide what is really “secular humanism” or implications of any religion? All
judges and textbook sorters would have to be well read in all religions, this is nearly
impossible. The only thing they