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Becoming Right: Education and the Formation of Conservative Movements

by Michael W. Apple & Anita Oliver - 1996

Conservative movements are becoming more powerful in the United States. Yet there are few investigations of why people actually "become Right." We show how people "become Right" through their interactions with unresponsive institutions. We first describe the assemblage of cultural assumptions, fears, and tensions that underpin the cultural and religious Right. We argue that the way the bureaucratic state has developed is ideally suited to confirm these fears and tensions. We then instantiate these arguments by focusing on a specific textbook controversy that led to the formation of Rightist sentiments in a community. Finally, we suggest a number of important theoretical and practical implications of this analysis for the politics of education and for attempts at countering the growth ofultraconservative movements in education.


Throughout the United States, national organizations have been formed by conservatives to fight against what counts as "official knowledge" in schools. These organizations often reach out to local groups of "con­cerned citizens" and offer financial and legal assistance in their battles with school systems at state and local levels. Citizens for Excellence in Education, the Eagle Forum, the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom, and Focus on the Family are among the most active. Mel and Norma Gabler, as well, have developed a system of opposition that aids parents and Rightist groups throughout the country in their attempts to challenge educational policies and practices and to either change the con­tent of books or have them removed from schools. The "Christian Right" has become an increasingly powerful movement in the United States, one that has had major effects on educational policy deliberations, curricu­lum, and teaching.i


Yet it would be all too easy to read these organizations' imprint every­where. Indeed, this would be a serious mistake not only empirically, but conceptually and politically as well. While there is intentionality, too often we see Rightist movements conspiratorially. In the process, we not only reduce the complexity that surrounds the politics of education, but we take refuge in binary oppositions of good and bad. We thereby ignore the ele­ments of possible insight in some (even right-wing) oppositional groups and ignore the places where decisions could have been made that would not have contributed to the growth of these movements.


A basic question undergirding this inquiry is this: How does the religious Right grow? Our claim is that this can be fully understood only by focusing on the interactions, those that often occur at a local level, between the state and the daily lives of ordinary people as they interact with institutions.


In no way do we wish to minimize the implications of the growth of Rightist social movements. Indeed, the conservative restoration has had truly negative affects on the lives of millions of people in a number of countries.ii Rather, we want to provide a more dynamic view of how and why such movements actually are found to be attractive. Too often, not only do current analyses assume what has to be explained but they place all of the blame for the growth of Rightist positions on the persons who "become Right." No one focuses on the larger sets of relations that might push people toward a more aggressive right-wing stance. Yet this is exactly our point. People often "become Right" due to their interactions with unresponsive institutions. Thus, part of our argument is that there is a close connection between how the state is structured and acts and the for­mation of social movements and identities.


In what follows, we combine elements of neo-Gramscian and poststruc-tural analysis. Our aim is partly to demonstrate how the former—with its focus on the state, on the formation of hegemonic blocs, on new social alliances and the generation of consent—and the latter—with its focus on the local, on the formation of subjectivity and identity, and on the creation of subject positions—can creatively work together to illuminate crucial parts of the politics of education.iii For the neo-Gramscian position, one of the major ways dominant groups exercise leadership in society is through the generation of consent. Thus, people who may not totally agree with all of the ideological stances of powerful groups come under the "hegemonic umbrella" of the most powerful forces of a society through a process of the creation and recreation of a new common sense. Dominant groups within the state, the economy, and other elements of civil society connect with the experiences, anxieties, and hopes of people and integrate these people under their leadership. For poststructural approaches, there is no essential social or personal identity in, say, class, race, or gender terms. Identity is socially produced, multiple, contradictory, and contingent. It is discursively constructed in real, local circumstances, and often related to the ways in which powerful discourses are made available and circulate.iv


Behind this analysis is a particular position on what critical research should do. In other publications, one of us has argued that in all too much of the current critically and oppositionally oriented literature in education, "our words have taken on wings." Theoretical layer upon theoretical layer is added without coming to grips with the real and existing complexities of schooling. This is not an argument against theory. Rather, it takes the posi­tion that our eloquent abstractions are weakened in the extreme if they are not formed in relationship to the supposed object of these abstractions— schooling and its economic, political, and cultural conditions of existence. Letting the daily life surrounding the politics of educational institutions rub against you is wholly salutary in this regard. In the absence of this, all too many "critical educational theorists" coin trendy neologisms but remain all too disconnected from the lives and struggles of real people in real institutions.v We hope to overcome that here.


As Whitty, Edwards, and Gewirtz document in their analysis of the growth of conservative initiatives such as city technology colleges in England, Rightist policies and their effects are not always the result of carefully planned initiatives.vi They often have an accidental quality to them. This is not to deny intentionality. Rather, the historical specificities of local situa­tions and the complexities of multiple power relations in each site mean that conservative policies are highly mediated and have unforeseen conse­quences. If this is the case for many instances of overt attempts at moving educational policy and practice in a conservative direction, it is even more true when we examine how Rightist sentiments grow among local actors. Most analyses of "The Right" assume a number of things. They all too often assume a unitary ideological movement, seeing it as a relatively uncontra-dictory group rather than a complex assemblage of different tendencies, many of which are in a tense and unstable relationship to each other. Many analyses also take "The Right" as a "fact," as a given. It already exists as a massive structuring force that is able to work its way into daily life and into our discourses in well-planned ways. This takes for granted one of the most important questions that needs investigation: How is the Right formed?vii'


In previous work, it was argued that Rightist policies are often compro­mises both between the Right and other groups and among the various tendencies within the conservative alliance. Thus, neoliberal, neoconserva-tive, and authoritarian populist fundamentalist religious groups and a par­ticular fraction of the new middle class all have found a place under the ideological umbrella provided by broad Rightist tendencies. It was also shown how conservative discourses act in creative ways to disarticulate prior connections and rearticulate groups of people into this larger ideo­logical movement by connecting to the real hopes, fears, and conditions of people's daily lives and by providing seemingly "sensible" explanations for the current troubles people are having.viii Yet this too gives the impression that the creative educational project that the Right is engaged in—to con­vince considerable numbers of people to join the broader alliance—works its way to the local level in smooth, rational steps. This may not be the case.


We want to argue that much more mundane experiences and events often underlie the Rightist turn at a local level in many cases. While the Right has engaged in concerted efforts to move our discourse and practices in particular directions, its success in convincing people is dependent on those things that Whitty, Edwards, and Gewirtz have called "accidents."ix Of course, accidents are often patterned and are themselves the results of complex relations of power. But the point is still a telling one. Acceptance of conservative tendencies is built in ways that are not always planned and may involve tensions and contradictory sentiments among the people who ultimately "become Right."


In illuminating this, we shall first describe the assemblage of cultural assumptions, fears, and tensions that underpin the cultural and religious Right in the United States.x We shall then argue that the ways the bureau­cratic state has developed is ideally suited to confirm these fears and ten­sions. Third, we shall instantiate these arguments by focusing on a specific case in which a textbook controversy led to the formation of Rightist senti­ments in a local community. Finally, we want to suggest a number of important implications of this analysis for the politics of education and for attempts at countering the growth of ultrarightist movements in education. We shall focus here on the ways in which one particular element of the Right—authoritarian populism and the process of connecting it to other parts of the conservative alliance—is formed. Similar analyses are needed on the growth of acceptance of the neoliberal project—with its vision of the weak state and the expansion of market relations into all spheres of society—and on the increasing visibility of neoconservative positions—with their focus on a strong state and on control over "tradition," values, knowl­edge, and the body.xi While we shall devote most of our attention to authoritarian populist movements, we suspect that similar processes and experiences may underlie these other tendencies as well.



There is a story told by a teacher about a discussion that arose in her ele­mentary school classroom. A number of students were excitedly talking about some "dirty words" that had been scribbled on the side of a building during Halloween. Even after the teacher asked the children to get ready for their language arts lesson, most of them continued to talk about "those words." As often happens, the teacher sensed that this could not be totally ignored. She asked her students what made words "dirty." This provoked a long and productive discussion among these second graders about how certain words were used to hurt people and how "this wasn't very nice."


Throughout it all, one child had not said a thing, but was clearly deeply involved in listening. Finally, he raised his hand and said that he knew "the dirtiest word in the world." He was too embarrassed to say the word out loud (and also knew that it would be inappropriate to even utter it in school). The teacher asked him to come up later and whisper it in her ear. During recess, he came over to the teacher, put his head close to hers, and quietly, secretly, said "the word." The teacher almost broke up with laugh­ter. The dirty word, that word that could never be uttered, was statistics. One of the boy's parents worked for a local radio station and every time the ratings came out, the parent would angrily state, "Those damn statis­tics!" What could be dirtier?


For large numbers of parents and conservative activists, other things are a lot "dirtier." Discussions of the body, of sexuality, of politics and personal values, and of any of the social issues surrounding these topics, are a danger zone. To deal with them in any way in school is not wise. But if they are going to be dealt with, these conservative activists demand that they be han­dled in the context of traditional gender relations, the nuclear family, and the "free market" economy, and according to sacred texts like the Bible.


Take sexuality education as a case in point. For cultural conservatives, sex education is one of the ultimate forms of "secular humanism" in schools. It is attacked by the New Right both as a major threat to parental control of schools and because of its teaching of "nontraditional" values. For the coalition of forces that make up the New Right, sex education can destroy the family and religious morality "by encouraging masturbation, pre-marital sex, lots of sex, sex without guilt, sex for fun, homosexual sex, sex."xii These groups view it as education for—not about—sex, which will create an obsession that can override "Christian morality" and threaten God-given gender roles.xiii These were important elements in the intense controversy over the Rainbow Curriculum in New York City, for example, and certainly contributed to the successful moves to oust the city's school superintendent from his position.


The vision of gender roles that stands behind these attacks is striking. Alien Hunter, one of the most perceptive commentators on the conservative agenda, argues that the New Right sees the family as an organic and divine unity that "resolves male egoism and female selflessness." He goes on to say:

Since gender is divine and natural . . . there is [no] room for legiti­mate political conflict. . . . Within the family women and men—stabil­ity and dynamism—are harmoniously fused when undisturbed by mod­ernism, liberalism, feminism, [and] humanism which not only threaten masculinity and femininity directly, but also [do so] through their effects on children and youth. "Real women," i.e. women who know themselves to be wives and mothers, will not threaten the sanc­tity of the home by striving for self. When men or women challenge these gender roles they break with God and nature; when liberals, feminists, and secular humanists prevent them from fulfilling these roles they undermine the divine and natural supports upon which society rests.xiv

All of this is connected to their view that public schooling itself is a site of immense danger.xv In the words of conservative activist Tim La Haye, "Modern public education is the most dangerous force in a child's life: religiously, sexually, economically, patriotically, and physically."xvi This is connected to the cultural conservative's sense of loss surrounding school­ing and community:

Until recently, as the New Right sees it, schools were extensions of home and traditional morality. Parents could entrust their children to public schools because they were locally controlled and reflected Bibli­cal and parental values. However, taken over by alien, elitist forces schools now interpose themselves between parents and children. Many people experience fragmentation of the unity between family, church, and school as a loss of control of daily life, one's children, and Amer­ica. Indeed, [the New Right] argues that parental control of education is Biblical, for "in God's plan, the primary responsibility for educating the young lies in the home and directly in the father."xvii

Here it is clearly possible to see why, say, sexuality education has become such a major issue for conservative movements. Its very existence, and especially its most progressive and honest moments, threatens crucial ele­ments of the entire world view of these parents and activists.


Of course, issues of sexuality, gender, and the body are not the only focus of attention of cultural conservatives. These concerns are linked to a much larger array of questions about what counts as "legitimate" content in schools. And in this larger arena of concern about the entire corpus of school knowledge, conservative activists have had no small measure of suc­cess in pressuring textbook publishers and in altering aspects of state edu­cational policy as well. This is critical, since the text still remains the domi­nant definition of the curriculum in schools not only in the United States but in many other nations as well.xviii  


For example, the power of these groups can be seen in the "self-censor­ship" in which publishers engage. For instance, a number of publishers of high school literature anthologies have chosen to include Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, but only after all references to the intense racism of the United States have been removed.xix Another example is pro­vided by the textbook law in Texas, which mandates texts that stress patrio­tism, authority, and the discouragement of "deviance." Since most text­book publishers aim the content and organization of their texts at what will be approved in a small number of populous states that in essence approve and purchase their texts statewide, this gives Texas (and Califor­nia) immense power in determining what will count as legitimate knowl­edge throughout the entire country.xx


Quoting from the Texas legislation on textbooks, the author of a recent study of textbook controversy describes it in this way:

"Textbook content shall promote citizenship and understanding of the essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, emphasiz­ing patriotism and respect for recognized authority, and promote respect for individual rights." Textbooks shall not "include selec­tions or works which encourage or condone civil disobedience, social strife, or disregard of law," nor shall they "contain material which serves to undermine authority" or "which would cause embar­rassing situations or interference in the learning atmosphere of the classroom." Finally, textbooks approved for use in Texas "shall not encourage lifestyles deviating from generally accepted standards of society." The Texas law's endorsement of free enterprise and tradi­tional lifestyles and its prohibition of lawlessness and rebellion are regularly cited by textbook activists to support their efforts to remove material which, in their view, promotes socialism, immoral­ity or disobedience.xxi

Clearly here, the "family" stands as the building block of society, "the foun­dation upon which all of culture is maintained." It provides civilization with its moral foundation. The family's strength and stability, in essence, determine the vitality and moral life of the larger society.xxii One of the ways the family guarantees this is through its central place in instilling in chil­dren the proper moral values and traits of character that can withstand the "moral decay" seen all around us.


Yet it is not only the family's place as a source of moral authority that is important here. The family, and the "traditional" gender roles within it, demands that "people act for the larger good" by taming the pursuit of self-interest that is so powerful in the (supposedly) male public world.xxiii Rebecca Klatch notes that

implicit in this image of the family is the social conservative concep­tion of human nature. Humans are creatures of unlimited appetites and instincts. Left on their own, they would turn the world into a chaos of seething passions, overrun by narrow self-interest. Only the moral authority of the family or the church restrains human passions, transforming self-interest into the larger good. The ideal society is one in which individuals are integrated into a moral community, bound together by faith, by common moral values, and by obeying the dic­tates of the family, church, and God.xxiv

In this way of constructing the world, all of the nation's problems are attributed to moral decay. The signs of decay are everywhere: "sexual promiscuity, pornography, legalized abortion, and the displacement of marriage, family, and motherhood."xxv Even widespread poverty is at base a moral problem, but not in the way progressives might see this as the result of social policies that have little ethical concern for their effects on the poor and the working class. Rather, as George Gilder put it in a speech at the conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly's celebration of the ultimate defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, "The crucial problems of the poor in America are not material. This is something [we] must understand. The poor in America are richer than the upper fifth of all people during most of America's history. They are some of the richest people in the world. The crucial problems of the poor are not material but spiritual."xxvi


Given this definition of the problem, poverty and other aspects of moral decay so visible in our major institutions such as schools can be solved only through moral renewal, prayer, repentance, and a clear recognition of the centrality of religious belief, morality, and "decency."xxvii


We should not take lightly the view of schooling—and the perception of reality that lies behind this view—that such movements espouse. Perhaps this can be best seen in a letter circulated to conservative parents and activists by the Eagle Forum, an active Rightist group associated with Phyl­lis Schlafly. Such letters have been found throughout school systems in the United States. This one takes the form of a formal notification to school boards about parents' rights.

To:    School Board President


I am the parent of:_________________________ who attends _________;_______ School. Under U.S. legislation and court decisions, parents have the primary responsibility for their chil­dren's education, and pupils have certain rights which the schools may not deny. Parents have the right to assure that their children's beliefs and moral values are not undermined by the schools. Pupils have the right to have and to hold their values and moral standards without direct or indirect manipulation by the schools through curricula, text­books, audio-visual materials, or supplementary assignments.

Accordingly, I hereby request that my child be involved in NO school activities or materials listed below unless I have first reviewed all the relevant materials and have given my written consent for their use:

• Psychological and psychiatric examinations, tests, or surveys that are designed to elicit information about attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings of an individual or group;

• Psychological and psychiatric treatment that is designed to affect behavioral, emotional, or attitudinal characteristics of an individual or group;

• Values clarification, use of moral dilemmas, discussion of religious or moral standards, role-playing or open-ended discussions of situa­tions involving moral issues, and survival games including life/death decisions exercises;

• Death education, including abortion, euthanasia, suicide, use of vio­lence, and discussions of death and dying;

• Curricula pertaining to alcohol and drugs;

• Instruction in nuclear war, nuclear policy, and nuclear classroom games;

• Anti-nationalistic, one-world government or globalism curricula;

• Discussion and testing on inter-personal relationships; discussions of attitudes toward parents and parenting;

• Education in human sexuality, including premarital sex, extra-mari­tal sex, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, group sex and mar­riages, prostitution, incest, masturbation, bestiality, divorce, popula­tion control, and roles of males and females; sex behavior and atti­tudes of student and family;

• Pornography and any materials containing profanity and/or sexual explicitness;

• Guided fantasy techniques; hypnotic techniques; imagery and sug-gestology;

• Organic evolution, including the idea that man has developed from previous or lower types of living things;

• Discussions of witchcraft and the occult, the supernatural, and East­ern mysticism;

• Political affiliations and beliefs of student and family; personal reli­gious beliefs and practices;

• Mental and psychological problems and self-incriminating behavior potentially embarrassing to the student or family;

• Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom the child has fam­ily relationships;

• Legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians and ministers;

• Income, including the student's role in family activities and finances;

• Non-academic personality tests; questionnaires on personal and fam­ily life and attitudes;

• Autobiography assignments; log books, diaries, and personal jour­nals;

• Contrived incidents for self-revelation; sensitivity training, group encounter sessions, talk-ins, magic circle techniques, self-evaluation and auto-criticism; strategies designed for self-disclosure (e.g., zig­zag);

• Sociograms; sociodrama; psychodrama; blindfold walks; isolation techniques.

The purpose of this letter is to preserve my child's rights under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (the Hatch Amendment) to the General Education Provisions Act, and under its regulations as published in the Federal Register of Sept. 6, 1984, which became effec­tive Nov. 12, 1984. These regulations provide a procedure for filing complaints first at the local level, and then with the U.S. Department of Education. If a voluntary remedy fails, federal funds can be with­drawn from those in violation of the law. I respectfully ask you to send me a substantive response to this letter attaching a copy of your policy statement on procedures for parental permission requirements, to notify all my child's teachers, and to keep a copy of this letter in my child's permanent file. Thank you for your cooperation.


It is clear from this letter how much the state is distrusted. Here, schooling is a site of immense danger. The range of prohibitions covered documents the sense of alarm these parents and activists feel and indicates why they would closely examine what their children are supposedly experiencing in schools. In the minds of conservatives, raising these objections is not cen­sorship; it is protecting the entire range of things that are at the center of their being.



It is in the conflict over this range of issues that new parts of the state are formed. We have often employed a reified vision of the state. The state is seen as a thing. It is simply there. Yet, at all levels, the state is in formation. Not only is "it" an arena in which different groups struggle to legitimate and institute their own senses of needs and needs discourses,xxviii but it also is itself formed and changed in both its content and form by these struggles.


Throughout the United States at local levels, school districts have estab­lished mechanisms to regulate conflict over official knowledge. As we showed, Rightist populist social movements, especially Christian funda­mentalists, have raised fundamental (no pun intended) objections to an extensive array of curricula, pedagogy, and evaluative procedures. Thus, for example, textbooks in reading and literature have been challenged for their "secular humanism," their sponsorship of "socialism," occultism, their "overemphasis" on minority culture, and even their supposedly veiled espousal of vegetarianism.xxix


Focusing on textbook controversies is crucial in a number of ways. First, in the absence of an overt and official national curriculum in the United States, the standardized textbook that is partly regulated by and aimed at widespread state adoption provides much of the framework for a hidden national curriculum.xxx Second, even though many teachers use the text­book as a jumping-off point rather than something one must always follow slavishly, it is the case that teachers in the United States do in fact use the text as the fundamental curriculum artifact in classrooms to a remarkable degree. Third, the absence of a codified national curriculum and the his­tory of populist sentiment here means that many of the most powerful protests over what counts as official knowledge in schools have historically focused on the textbook itself. It provides an ideal fulcrum to pry loose the lid from the dynamics underlying the cultural politics of education and the social movements that form it and are formed by it.


Given the power of these groups, many school districts have offices and/or standardized procedures for dealing "efficiently and safely" with these repeated challenges. One of the effects of such procedures has often been that the institutions construct nearly all challenges to official knowl­edge in particular ways—as censorship, and as coming from organized New Right groups. Thus, the educational apparatus of the state expands as a defensive mechanism to protect itself against such populist pressure. Yet once this structure is established, its "gaze" defines social criticism in ways it can both understand and deal with. This has crucial theoretical and political implications for how we see the role of the state in the politics of education. For it is in the growth of such bureaucratic procedures and the associated length of time that it takes to rule on challenges that the Right often finds fertile soil. In order to understand this, we must say more about how we should see the state.


"The state may best be studied as a process of rule."xxxi In Bruce Curtis's words, state formation involves "the centralization and concentration of relations of economic and political power and authority in society." State formation typically involves the appearance or the reorganization of monopolies over the means of violence, taxation, and administration, and over symbolic systems.xxxii In essence, state formation is about the creation, sta­bilization, and normalization of relations of power and authority.xxxiii


Education is not immune to this process. This is part of a much longer history in which the state, through its bureaucratic administration, seeks to keep the "interests of education" not only from the control of elites but also from the influence of populist impulses from below.xxxiv This is crucial to the story we are telling here.


Bureaucratic systems have substance. Emile Durkheim recognized a cen­tury ago that efficiency "is an ethical construct, one whose adoption involves a moral and political choice."xxxv The institutionalization of effi­ciency as a dominant bureaucratic norm is not a neutral technical matter. It is, profoundly, an instance of cultural power relations.xxxvi


No bureaucracy can function well unless those who interact with it "adopt specific attitudes, habits, beliefs, and orientations." "Proper" atti­tudes toward authority, "appropriate" beliefs about the legitimacy of exper­tise, willingness to follow all the "necessary" rules and procedures—these are crucial to the maintenance of power,xxxviieven when such power is recog­nized as acceptable.


This process of freeing the interests of education from elite and popular control was and is a crucial element in state formation.xxxviii The state grows to protect itself and the self-proclaimed "democratic" interests it represents in response to such attempts at control. In the instance of Christian funda­mentalists, insurgent cultural forces from below—the "censors"—have cre­ated a situation in which the state expands its policing function over knowledge and establishes new bureaucratic offices and procedures to channel dissent into "legitimate" channels.


Curtis puts it correctly when he states that the "standardization and neu­tralization of judgements [has] tended to make implicit, rather than explicit, the class-specific content of educational governance."xxxix Bureau­cratic procedures that have been established to promote "the public inter­est"—and that in some interpretations may do so—are there to try to forge a consensus around and an acceptance of cultural legitimacy that may be rooted in strikingly antagonistic perceptions of the world.


Yet what happens when these "appropriate" and "proper" beliefs and responses fracture? What happens when the state loses its hold on legiti­mate authority, when its clients—in interaction with it over a period of time—come to refuse its monopoly over what counts as legitimate symbolic authority?


To answer these questions, we now want to turn to how this dynamic works in the real world by focusing on the conflict over a textbook series in a local school district where the parties in contention became polarized and where populist pressure from below increasingly turned actively conservative. In the process, we shall show how the workings of the bureaucratic state para­doxically provide fertile ground for parents to "become Right."xl



The site of this study, Citrus Valley, is a semi-rural community of about 30,000 people now within commuting distance of several larger western cities because of the growth of the interstate highway system. It is in the midst of a building boom that is predicted to almost double the population of the area. This is likely to change the atmosphere from that of a quiet, slow-moving, rural community to one resembling a small, faster-paced city. Much of its growing population will probably consist of commuters.


The average household income in 1989 at the beginning of the contro­versy was estimated to be $23,500. Demographic data indicate that nearly one-fourth of the current population is between the ages of sixty-five and seventy. The many "senior citizens," and the approximately fifty trailer parks, suggest that Citrus Valley is seen by many people as an attractive place for retirement as well.


There are no large industries in Citrus Valley, but the city would cer­tainly like some to move in. In fact, the largest single employer is the school district, with just under 600 employees, of which half are teachers. In 1980, 72 percent of the adult residents over age twenty-five had a high school education or less. Approximately 10 percent had graduated from college. A significant portion of the residents with college degrees work for the school district. The population of Citrus Valley is 95 percent European American, with a slowly growing Latino population. It is primarily a work­ing-class community, but one with a clearly growing and increasingly visible commuter middle class.


Even with the growth of commuting, a large portion of the townspeople are lifetime residents. One person described the community as "people, it's a real ethic here. People believe in traditional values. And they believe in responsibility and working as a community."


Certain things are evident in this brief demographic description. One is the changing nature of class relations in the community. People are mov­ing out of the large metropolitan area newly within commuting distance of Citrus Valley. Fear of violence, a search for "better schools," lower housing prices, and other elements are producing a situation in which members of the new middle class are becoming increasingly visible in the town. This class fraction is noted for its sympathy to child-centered pedagogy and for what Basil Bernstein has called loosely framed and loosely classified cur­riculum and teaching.xli Thus, a tension between "country" and "city" and between class-related educational visions may lie beneath the surface.


Second, the changing nature of the community is occurring at a time of perceived fears of downward mobility and a very real economic crisis in the United States in which many western states—and the one in which Citrus Valley is located in particular—are experiencing economic dislocation and its attendant apprehensions about the future. Needless to say, farm economies are not immune to these fears and dislocations. For many indi­viduals, this will have a profound impact on their sense of what schooling is for, on what should and should not be taught, and on who should control it. For many working-class women and men, economic anxieties and fears of cultural collapse are difficult to separate.


In the middle of these transformations and the possible tensions that underlie the town's outward tranquility and "tradition," the school district had decided to move to a new orientation in its language arts program. In this, it was following the guidelines and timetable laid out by the state's department of education for all school districts. The state guidelines strongly urged school districts to use a literature-based approach to teach­ing language arts and in fact Citrus Valley had already begun employing such an approach built on a core of books chosen by the teachers them­selves. Both teachers and administrators were enthusiastic about what they perceived as the initial success of their literature/whole language empha­sis. The logical next step for them was to search for a textbook series that would complement the goals and practices already partly in place.


This particular state allocates funds for purchases of state-adopted mate­rial—largely textbooks that have passed through the complicated political and educational screening process necessary for winning approval as a rec­ommended text by the state board. Seventy percent of these allocations must be spent on such recommended texts, while the majority of the remaining money may be used to purchase nonadopted supplementary material. School districts may use their own funds as well to buy unadopted material, but in a time of fiscal crisis this is considerably more difficult. Thus, money is available largely for commercially produced and standard­ized textbooks. The task is to find textbooks that come closest to the approach you believe in.


There are many texts available. To make it more likely that a particular textbook will be chosen, inducements are often offered by publishers. The amount of "free" materials, for instance, given to school districts by a pub­lisher is often considerable. This is common practice among publishers, since textbook publishing is a highly competitive enterprise.xlii In the case of Citrus Valley, the "gift" of such materials seemed to have an impact on the choice.


Citrus Valley began processing a new language arts textbook series in the 1988-1989 school year. This was the year for changing reading/language arts textbooks as school districts sought to accommodate revised state guidelines for introducing new series. The result of this process was the selection of the Impressions reading series, published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. The series uses a whole language, literature-based methodol­ogy—one grounded in a loosely classified curriculum orientation—that this particular state strives to implement in all schools.


When school began in the fall of 1989, there was no reason to suspect that there would be any problems with Impressions, although it had been challenged in other districts in this state and in other states as well. After all, the steps for piloting and implementing a new series had been carefully followed. The district introduced the new series with confidence and enthusiasm. The memos circulated around the district after the selection of Impressions reflected the pleasure after much effort of finally having made a choice that seemed in tune with the district's goals. In June, after telling the teachers that close to 150 boxes of the new books had arrived, one district administrator made a prophetic statement. She wrote, "Have a wonderful summer! We have an exciting next year in store for us." Truer words have never been spoken.


Within the first two months of the school year, some parents and teach­ers began to complain about the books. Parents became concerned about the content of the texts. Not only were the stories "scary," but there were concerns about the values that were in them and about mistakes in spelling and printing. The parents objected to a number of the selections in the textbook that the publisher had sent to the district. For example, one poem from a fifth-grade book was about pigs in a swamp near some houses. The pigs "live on dead fish and rotting things, drowned pets, plas­tic and assorted excreta." The poem ends with the pigs' having consumed the flesh in the pond, and now having a taste for flesh they look up toward the shore.xliii The district explained that the poem carried an environmental message. For the parents, it was violent and fearful, a claim they made even more strongly about some of the other material in the books for even younger children.


Parents began talking to each other and slowly a more organized sense began to emerge as community members went to school board meetings and had meetings in local churches. Ultimately, a group of parents formed Concerned Citizens of Citrus Valley (CCCV) in an effort to convince the school board to withdraw the textbook series. The board and the school administration acted in two paradoxical ways. They treated the challenge as nearly an act of aggression—in essence, they "geared up for war." At the same time, they slowed the process of challenge by channeling it through the bureaucratic procedures that had been developed—often for very good reasons in many districts so that teachers and administrators could be protected from outside attacks. In this way, "proper attitudes" and efficient procedures are wedded in the local state's response.


Nearly every parent who was interviewed who opposed the books stated that their original introduction to the content of the textbooks began when their child came home upset by a particular selection in the texts. CCCV parents as they organized were unwilling to be identified with out­side groups. They felt that their intelligence was being questioned when supporters of the books accused the CCCV of being controlled by "outside forces." According to them, when their children brought home stories that disturbed them by, say, causing nightmares or frightening them, the par­ents' first reaction was disbelief. Textbooks were "innocuous." Thus, they were more than a little surprised to read stories in their children's books that seemed inappropriate and were even more surprised and dismayed by what they felt was the board's and the administration's "heavy-handed" response.xliv


As the conflict grew, the CCCV organized a recall campaign against a number of board members. The school system dug in its heels against "far Right censors" and the community itself was badly split. For the board and the school administration, the CCCV was a symptom of a larger national censorious movement organized around a far Right agenda. "Giving in" meant surrendering professional expertise to the forces of political reac­tion. For the CCCV, the issue increasingly became one of parental power and of a school board and school bureaucracy that was arrogant and refused to take citizens' complaints seriously.


Crucial to understanding the situation here is the fact that the leader­ship of the CCCV began to form connections with the religious Right only after confronting the district administration and the school board for a long period of time. In fact, the connections were never very strong between the CCCV and any outside group. Late in the controversy, one person did become a liaison between Rightist groups and that person is now firmly cemented within a national organization for "religious rights" and assists in Rightist political campaigns. Yet even here, prior to this con­troversy this person was not only uninterested in such causes but was opposed to them.


When the CCCV parents were repeatedly rejected by the local school leadership, they were drawn into the rhetoric and views of the New Right. They felt, rightly or wrongly, that their concerns were minimized and trivi­alized by both the district administration and the school board. Since they were largely dismissed by the holders of educational authority, then and only then did they begin looking outside the community for groups to dia­logue with who held views similar to their own about the nature of the text­books that had been introduced into the schools. Organizationally, CCCV parents remained on their own, but the New Right increasingly came to be seen as a more attractive set of beliefs and as an ideological ally.


Thus, even when the district made limited attempts, as it did, to con­vince the protestors of the educational benefits of the new pedagogy and curricula, these efforts were dismissed. One is not likely to subscribe to the views of authorities who disparage you. The schools' immediate response, then—to treat these parents as far Right ideologues who were simply inter­ested in censoring books and teachers—helped create the conditions for the growth of the ideological movements they were so frightened of.


Let us examine this a bit more closely. It was the case that most members of the CCCV were what might best be called "traditionalists." They were indeed wary of change. They did like their community as it was (or at least as they perceived it to be). In their minds, they were opposed to the text­book series because of what they felt was its violence, its capacity to frighten children, and its negativity. By and large, the majority of the com­munity seemed to lean in such a traditional direction. Yet the CCCV par­ents saw themselves as trying to find a middle ground between the Right and what they considered the "liberal Left." Most of them were quite sur­prised to find themselves identified as part of the Right. Rather, their self-perception was as "hard-working citizens" who wanted to maintain posi­tions that allowed them to conduct their lives as they had been doing in the past. Time and again they restated the position that they were just "ordinary people" who wanted the best for their children.xlv


The parent group that originally organized to oppose the textbooks was made up of people from a variety of religious and political persuasions. There were Catholic, Jewish, "mainstream" Protestant, evangelical and fun­damentalist Protestant, Mormon, and nonchurch and agnostic members. Also interesting is the fact that only a few church leaders became involved in the controversy in open support of the CCCV parents. There was little evidence that this was a "fundamentalist" religious issue organized initially either from the outside or by evangelical leaders eager to take on the schools as bastions of secular humanism. In fact, because of the religious diversity and a reluctance to be identified as New Right, many CCCV par­ents were quite hesitant to hold meetings in a church. However, given the paucity of buildings that were large enough to hold well-attended public meetings, when a local pastor volunteered his church for CCCV use, with some caution it was chosen as the meeting place.


There were other characteristics, however, that seemed to differentiate CCCV members from others in the community. While they were diverse religiously, in general they did not hold public office and they did not feel that they were part of a network that was central to the community's power relations and daily lives. Many expressed feelings that they were on the fringes of local power. Nor were they economically homogeneous; the group included some local business people and professional, as well as working-class, members.


At the first meeting of the CCCV about 25 to 30 people came. At the sec­ond meeting there were 75. As the conflict intensified, 700 people packed into the local church that had been volunteered as a meeting place. The intensity is made evident by the fact that police were stationed at a school board meeting called to discuss the textbooks. Over 250 concerned com­munity members jammed into the meeting room. The tension was visceral.


In many ways, then, most CCCV parents were in the beginning what might best be called "ordinary middle-of-the-road conservatives" without significant affiliations to Rightist activist groups, people who did not have a larger ideological or religious agenda that they wished to foist on others. Certainly, they did not see themselves as censorious ideologues who wished to transform the United States into a "Christian nation" and who mis­trusted anything that was public.


To reduce the conflict to one of relatively ignorant parents or simple-minded religious fundamentalists trying to use censorship to further the aims of a larger Rightist movements is both to misconstrue the ways ordi­nary actors organize around local struggles and to underestimate these people themselves. Such a position sees "dupes"—puppets—in instances such as this and radically simplifies the complexities of such situations. In many ways, such simplifying views reproduce in our own analyses the stereotypes that were embodied in the school administration's and the school board's response to the issues raised by the parents.


The rapidity with which the district responded in such enormous pro­portions, as if it were in essence preparing for war, seemed to be the cata­lyst that actually drove the parents in the direction of Rightist groups caused CCCV parents to take a stronger oppositional position than they might have otherwise taken. As soon as the CCCV parents challenged the district, the district immediately reduced the issue to one of "censorship." This very construction reduced the complexities to a form that both was familiar to the "professional" discourse of school administrators and teach­ers and enabled the district to respond in ways that did not leave open other interpretations of the motivations and concerns of the parents.


At the beginning of this controversy, information was shared by women talking to women in public places and in their homes. Mothers told each other about the contents of the books when they picked up their children after school, as they met for lunch, and while they visited their friends. (As the controversy developed, however, more men became involved and exerted more leadership, thereby signaling once again the relationship between gen­der and the public sphere.xlvi) For some of the women who worked very hard in the CCCV group, it was the discounting of their concerns that led to even more persistence in getting answers to questions about the textbooks and about the process involved in their selection, and in organizing activities against the books themselves. These women's response to the school's resis­tance and to the local state's definition of them as "irresponsible" was to become even more determined in their efforts to disseminate information about the books. Even though they were not visibly angry and confronta­tional, and even though they became increasingly strong in their opposition to the series, they were pushed into resistance by not being taken seriously.


The women involved in the CCCV had initial political intuitions, but these were not fully formed in any oppositional sense. The group included both social/cultural conservatives and laissez-faire conservatives, with the former grounded in a belief in the importance of religiosity, "the family," and "tradition" and the latter grounded in ideas about "individual free­dom," "American patriotism," and the "free market," thereby documenting the diversity within even the more moderate conservative positions held. Yet the most common themes of CCCV women were the sovereignty of the fam­ily and the perceived attack on their rights as parents to control their chil­dren's education. Added to this was their perception that Impressions did not represent America accurately or sufficiently. However, these women did not begin the controversy in previously defined conscious positions of conser­vatism. Rather, they were startled at the beginning that there was a problem with the textbooks in their community. Through the months of the conflict, their stances became formed and became more clear as a result of having to find a way of making sense out of the schools' response.


Thus, as the conflict deepened, one of the leaders of the CCCV became increasingly influenced by Francis Schaeffer, a conservative theologian who supported the idea of absolute truth. As this parent searched for ways of understanding her growing distress, she found Schaeffer's ideas more and more attractive. For Schaeffer, there are "true truths." There are rights and wrongs, basic immutable values, that enable us to know with certainty that some things are absolutely right and other things are absolutely wrong. Without this, according to Schaeffer, there is no Christianity.xlvii


This becomes much clearer if we again take the example of one person deeply involved in the CCCV, the mother of a child in one of the schools that were using the textbook series. At the outset, she was not a deeply reli­gious person. She rarely attended church and had no strong loyalties to any one organization and would have rejected the label of "New Right." Her advice to others involved with her at the beginning was to work with the district and not to organize. As her views were directly confronted and challenged by the district and her position seemingly stereotyped, she began to look more closely at what she felt she had to do with her opposi­tion to the books. Her views were repeatedly minimized and she was accused of being "right-wing." As a result of this, not only did she become a part of the development of the CCCV by parents, but at the end of the con­troversy she became deeply involved with Christian women's groups on national political issues. What began as a concern over the content of books ended with individuals like her becoming active members of right-wing national movements.


At the end of the conflict, the school district announced a "solution." It would continue to use Impressions and its core literature program. It would also continue the practice of allowing parents to request up to two alterna­tive assignments to these materials each semester. It then went further. The district implemented alternative classes for those parents who had become totally opposed to Impressions. Parents were asked to return a letter in which they were asked if they wanted their children to be in a special non-Impressions class. They were told that "this may result in a classroom or school site change for your child. In the event a site change is necessary, you will need to provide transportation."


While this response does show some flexibility on the part of the school system, it immediately created a difficult situation for parents who worked outside the home or who were unable to provide transportation for their children. Work schedules, a lack of two (or even one) cars, economic dis-advantagement, and other elements created a situation in which parents often had no alternative but to keep their children in the Impressions class­rooms. Thus are the seeds of further alienation sowed.


As the next school year began, the district reported that 82 percent of the parents had chosen to put their children in Impressions classes. Whether this is evidence of choice or of having no real alternatives due to the condi­tions we mentioned above is unclear. Yet, when nearly 20 percent of parents actively choose experiences different from officially defined knowledge for their children, it is clear that the controversy continues to simmer not too far below the surface.


There have been other changes in the openness of the school system concerning the processes by which official knowledge is chosen. For example, parents are now included in the early stages of textbook selec­tion. The school district administrators and the school board are now much more aware of the complex politics surrounding parental concerns and the consequences of the "professional" decisions they make. Above all, however, there is a tense watchfulness on all sides and a polarization that is deeply cemented into the community. An active Right now exists in powerful ways.


We have been interested here not only in illuminating the complex process through which people become Rightist, though such analyses are crucial in understanding cultural politics in education. We also have a the­oretical agenda. Too often, traditions talk past each other in critical educa­tional studies. Neo-Gramscian, postmodern, and poststructural theories are seen as opposites. We reject these divisions for a more integrative approach. We have taken tools from the neo-Gramscian tradition—an emphasis on the power of the state and on the ideological currents within common sense and on the power of cultural movements from below—with­out ignoring the economic context of social action. We have comple­mented this with a focus on identity politics and the state's role in circulat­ing subject positions, which are then reappropriated by real people in the complex politics of the local level. Behind this is a claim that the study of social movements and the condition of their generation, in a time of increasingly aggressive attacks on the school and on the very idea of "the public" by Rightist groups, is essential. Integrating these various perspec­tives is an ambitious agenda, but the politics of education needs to be treated with the integrative seriousness its complexity deserves.


The implications of what we have described here are of great impor­tance to any analysis of the formation of Rightist movements and to the role of the school in identity formation. Many writers have talked about the school as a productive site. It is a site of the production of student identi­ties and of the production of a politics of identity formation.xlviii Yet other identities are produced in interaction with state agencies such as schools. Oppositional identities centered around conservative cultural politics are formed as well. This is clear in the instance—one of many, we expect—that we have investigated here.


The subject positions made available by the state were only those of "responsible" parents, who basically supported "professional decision mak­ing," or "irresponsible" right-wing censors. The construction of this binary opposition created a situation in which the only ways that parents and other community members could be heard was to occupy the spaces pro­vided by the state. These were expanded and partly transformed, of course, but the only way in which attention was paid to these concerned individu­als was for them to become increasingly aggressive about their claims and increasingly organized around conservative cultural and religious themes. Social identities are formed in this way. Thus, moderately conservative and "moderate" community members are slowly transformed into something very different. The Right becomes the Right in a complex and dynamic set of interactions with the state. (How the local state is itself transformed by this is, of course, worthy of inquiry in this regard, but that will have to wait until another investigation.)


At the outset of this analysis, we drew on the arguments of Whitty, Edwards, and Gewirtz in which they claimed that the Right grows through "accidents."xlix It grows in halting, diffuse, and partly indeterminate ways that are located in an entire complex of economic, political, and cultural relations. We shall miss much of this dynamic complexity if we focus only on conservative movements from the outside of the situations in which they are built. We have suggested that a primary actor here is the bureau­cratic state, which may have expanded its policing functions over knowl­edge for good reasons but responds in ways that increase the potential for Rightist movements to grow.


One thing became clear during this study: The linkages between parents who challenge textbooks and national "authoritarian populist" groups grow during a controversy and as a result of such a controversy, rather than being driven by outside groups. In the case we have related here, a striking change is evident. A number of CCCV parents have not only become part of a larger network of New Right activists, but are proud of making such connections, connections that would have seemed impossible before. Here we need to stress again that these are individuals who had no prior links with New Right organizations and who had no desire to have any connec­tions with such conservative groups until well into the Impressions contro­versy. Equally important is the fact that these newly formed links are con­tinuing to grow stronger as new conservative political identities—exten­sions of the subject positions originally offered by the local state—are taken on by these people.


Economic conservativism and populism become linked to religious fun­damentalism in these local ways. "Concerned citizens," upset by what the schools have defined as official knowledge and (correctly) worried both about the downward economic mobility of their children and the values that they are being taught, put these two forms of conservatism together not through any natural process, but in a manner that places the aspects of the state at the center of the formation of social allegiances and social movements.


Our points are not meant to imply that everyone has "free agency," that people "freely choose" to become Rightist (or anything else) in a vacuum. Indeed, exactly the opposite is the case. The increasing dominance of con­servative positions on the entire range of issues involving education, the economy, sexuality, welfare, "intelligence,"l and so on in the media and in public discussions means that people in cities such as Citrus Valley and elsewhere live in a world where Rightist discourses constantly circulate. It is now increasingly hard not to hear such interpretations, and even harder to hear positions opposed to them. However, there are multiple ways in which such discourses can be heard or read. Acceptance is but one of them.li


One is left here with many questions, but in our mind, among the most important is this: Could it have been different? If the school personnel had listened more carefully, had not positioned the parents as censorious right-wingers, would there have been a more progressive result? This is not "sim­ply" a question about research. Given the Right's hegemonic project and the success of its ideological transformations, if schools are one of the cru­cial sites where these transformations occur, then interruptions of the bureaucratic gaze of the school and concrete struggles at a local level may be more important than we realize not only in the short term but in the long term as well.lii In fact, it is just as crucial that schools focus their criti­cal gaze on themselves and on how they may participate in creating the con­ditions in which ordinary citizens "become Right."


Fears about a declining economy or concerns about what is taught to one's children do not necessarily have to be sutured into an authoritarian populist attack on the state, nor do they necessarily have to be connected to the entire range of issues the Right stands for. Moderate and moderately traditional positions may not be ones all of our readers believe in, but there is a world of difference between such positions and the aggressive campaign against all that is public and against the very idea of a truly pub­lic school that emanates from the far Right. The widespread effects of such groups can be limited only if the larger number of the public who have populist concerns about schools are not pushed to the Right.


There is evidence that a different response to the politics of official knowledge by schools can have very different results. Though this is dis­cussed in much greater detail in Democratic Schools,liii it is worthwhile noting the experiences of schools that deal with such possibly polarizing situations in more open ways. To take but one example: Fratney Street School in Milwaukee, a city that has suffered severely from the downturn in manufactur­ing jobs and from very real class and race antagonisms, faced a situation in which political conflicts around class and racial dynamics could have pro­vided fertile ground for the growth of Rightist sentiments. Here, too, the central administration was often highly bureaucratic. It too was originally suspicious of parental and community concerns about a curriculum that seemed out of touch with the values and anxieties of many community members. Stereotypes of parents and their concerns abounded and there was a clear preference for the professional and the technical in making educational decisions.


Because the school is situated in a "border area" in which its student population is a combination of working-class European Americans, African Americans, and Latinos/Latinas, the issues of whose knowledge was repre­sented in the texts, of what an appropriate pedagogy would be, and of whose voices within that tense and diverse makeup would be listened to could have been as explosive as those that surfaced in Citrus Valley. These issues could have instigated the development of movements similar to those found in the case we have analyzed here. Yet they did not lead to such development and in fact led to the formation of cross-class and race coalitions for more progressive curricula and teaching and widespread sup­port for the school.


In part this was due to a group of teachers and administrators who—as a group—opened up the discussion of curricula and pedagogy to the multi­ple voices with a stake in the school, including parents, community activists, and students. There was constant attention paid to this—not as often happens in many school districts as a form of "public relations," which usually is largely a form of the "engineering of consent," but as an ongoing and genuine attempt to relate both the content of the curricu­lum and the decisions over it to the lives of the people involved. In part it was the result of the immense amount of work done by the educators involved there to publicly justify what they thought was best for students and why, in words and in a style that could not be interpreted as arrogant, elitist, or distant, and to listen sympathetically and carefully to the fears, concerns, and hopes of the various voices in the community. Finally, it was due to a decidedly nonhierarchical set of beliefs about what happens both within the school and between the school and the wider community(ies) of which it is a part.


None of this guarantees that the Right's restorational project will be transformed. Situations and their causes are indeed partly "accidental." Yet the experience at Fratney Street School and at other schools speaks to a very different articulation between the local state and its population, and it speaks to the very real possibility of interrupting a number of the conditions that lead to the growth of Rightist social movements. There is work to be done.

A briefer version of this article appears in Michael W. Apple, Cultural Politics and Educa­tion (New York: Teachers College Press, 1996).


i Joan Delfattore, What Johnny Shouldn't Read (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992). Among the more interesting analyses of important elements in these movements are James Davison Hunter, American Evangelicalism (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1983); and idem, Evangelicalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987).

ii See Michael W. Apple, Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age (New York: Routledge, 1993); Michael B. Katz, The Undeserving Poor (New York: Pantheon, 1989); and Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities (New York: Crown, 1991).

iii See Bruce Curtis, True Government by Choice Men? (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), for an insightful example of the integration of these often disparate programs of analysis.

iv For further discussion of identity politics, see Hank Bromley, "Identity Politics and Critical Pedagogy," Educational Theory 39 (Summer 1989): 207-23. One of us has raised issues concerning the relatively uncritical appropriation of poststructural and postmodern theory, but has also argued that it is crucial to let both neo-Gramscian and postmodern/poststructural positions interact with each other creatively. See, for example, Michael W. Apple, Education and Power, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 1995); and idem, Cultural Politics and Education (New York: Teachers College Press, 1996).

v Michael W. Apple, Teachers and Texts (New York: Routledge, 1988); and idem, Offi­cial Knowledge.

vi Geoff Whitty, Tony Edwards, and Sharon Gewirtz, Specialization and Choice in Urban Education (New York: Routledge, 1993).

vii  The formation of social movements and how they are connected to ideological ten­sions and beliefs has received a good deal of attention historically. See, for example, Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Charles Tilly, Popular Contestation in Britain (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995); and Alberto Melucci, Nomads of the Present (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989).

viii Apple, Official Knowledge; and idem, "The Politics of Official Knowledge: Does a National Curriculum Make Sense?" Teachers College Record 95 (Winter 1993): 222-41.

ix Whitty, Edwards, and Gewirtz, Specialization and Choice.

x These assumptions may not be totally the same in other nations, especially in the relative power of religious fundamentalism. Further, not all segments of the cultural and religious Right agree. For ease of presentation here, however, we will gloss over some of the differences within this movement.

xi The differences within and among the various elements of the conservative restora­tion are discussed more fully in Apple, Cultural Politics and Education.

xii Alien Hunter, Children in the Service of Conservatism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Institute for Legal Studies, 1988), p. 63.

xiii Ibid.

xiv Ibid., p. 15. It is important not to see such positions as "irrational." For many right-wing women, for example, such a belief is wholly sensible given the conditions in which they live. Joan Sherron DeHart gets it exactly right when she states that "we must recognize the screams of antifeminist women as the rational responses of people who live in a deeply gendered and profoundly precarious world—a world in which identity, social legitimacy, eco­nomic viability and moral order are deeply rooted in conventional gender categories" ("Gen­der on the Right: Behind the Existential Scream," Gender and History 3 [Winter 1991]: 261).

xv Apple, Official Knowledge.

xvi Tim La Haye, quoted in Hunter, Children in the Service of Conservatism, p. 57.

xvii Hunter, Children in the Service of Conservatism, p. 57.

xviii See Michael W. Apple and Linda Christian-Smith, eds. The Politics of the Textbook (NewYork: Routledge, 1991).

xix Delfattore, What Johnny Shouldn't Read, p. 123.

xx See Apple, Teachers and Texts; idem, Official Knowledge; and idem and Christian-Smith, The Politics of the Textbook.

xxi Delfattore, What Johnny Shouldn't Read, p. 139.

xxii Rebecca Klatch, Women of the New Right (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987), p. 23.

xxiii Ibid., p. 24.

xxiv Ibid.

xxv Ibid., p. 26.

xxvi George Gilder, quoted in Klatch, Women of the New Right, pp. 28-29.

xxvii Klatch, Women of the New Right, p. 29.

xxviii Nancy Fraser, Unruly Practices (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989).

xxix See Delfattore, What Johnny Shouldn't Read.

xxx  See Apple, Official Knowledge; and idem and Christian-Smith, The Politics of the Textbook.

xxxi Curtis, True Government by Choice Men?, p. 9; emphasis in original.

xxxii Ibid., p. 5.

xxxiii33 Ibid., p. 32. Curtis adds domination and exploitation to this list. There is, of course, a vast literature on the state, both as an arena of class, gender, and race conflict and as a contradictory assemblage of publicly financed institutions. While this is more fully dis­cussed in Apple, Education and Power, and in idem, "Texts and Contexts: The State and Gen­der in Educational Policy," Curriculum Inquiry 24 (Fall 1994): 349-59, representative exam­ples can be found in Peter Evans, Deitrich Ruesehemeyer, and Theda Skocpol, eds., Bring­ing the State Back In (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985); and Bob Jessop, State Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990).

xxxiv Curtis, True Government by Choice Men, p. 172.

xxxv Durkheim, quoted in ibid., p. 175.

xxxvi Ibid.

xxxvii Ibid., p. 174.

xxxviii Ibid., p. 192. See also Apple, Official Knowledge, pp. 64-92.

xxxix Curtis, True Government by Choice Men?, p. 197.

xl The material in the following section is drawn from Anita Oliver, "The Politics of Textbook Controversy: Parents Challenge the Implementation of a Reading Series" (Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1993). This study took place over a two-year period of research on site. It included long-term and repeated observations of public and private meetings of the school board, parents, community, and protest groups, and detailed and longitudinal interviews with administrators, teachers, parents, and activists on all sides of the controversy. It also involved attending such things as press conferences, court hear­ings, and church services and the collection of relevant written documents, both official and unofficial.

xli Basil Bernstein, The Structure of Pedagogic Discourse (New York: Routledge, 1990); and idem, Class, Codes, and Control, Volume 3 (New York: Routledge, 1977). We want to be cau­tious not to overstate our reading of the class dynamics of this situation. The new middle class is itself divided. Not all fractions of it support "invisible pedagogies: such as whole language approaches. Bernstein hypothesizes that those members of the new middle class who work for the state are much more likely to support such loosely classified and loosely framed pedagogies than are those who work in the private sector. This, and particular pro­fessional ideologies, may partly account for the fact that most teachers (though not all) in Citrus Valley supported the whole language emphasis found in the state guidelines and in Impressions.

xlii See Apple, Teachers and Texts, especially pp. 81-105.

xliii Roger McGouch, "The Lake," in Jack Booth, Thread the Needle (Toronto: Holt, Rine-hart & Winston, 1989), pp. 150-51. This is one of the volumes in the Impressions series.

xliv About the same time that parents first complained about the books, some teachers also brought complaints, but of a very different nature. Teachers reported that some of the stories in the books did not match the table of contents in the student anthologies. Obvi­ously, there was a distinct possibility that the wrong books had been shipped or that there were misprints. However, as the conflict intensified, the local teachers union became increasingly vocal in its support for the Impressions series and for the school district adminis­tration. Of all the groups involved in this study, teachers were the most reluctant to be interviewed. This is understandable given the tensions and fear in this situation.

xlv Some aspects of how the belief in the power of the "ordinary individual" works its way out in our daily lives are discussed in greater detail in Herbert Gans, Middle American Individualism (New York: The Free Press, 1988); and Craig Reinarman, American States of Mind (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987)

xlvi Fraser, Unruly Practices, pp. 113-44. See also Apple, "Texts and Contexts.

xlvii See Francis A. Schaeffer, The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy (Westchester, Some aspects of how the belief in the power of the "ordinary individual" works its way out in our daily lives are discussed in greater detail in Herbert Gans, Middle American Individualism (New York: The Free Press, 1988); and Craig Reinarman, American States of Mind (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987) Ill.: Crossway Books, 1990).

xlviii See, for example, Philip Wexler, Becoming Somebody (New York: Falmer Press, 1992).

xlix Whitty, Edwards, and Gewirtz, Specialization and Choice.

l See, for example, the widely discussed and hopelessly flawed volume by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York: The Free Press, 1994). The spon­sorship of this volume and its authors by conservative foundations, and these groups' ability to place the authors on highly visible media outlets, is worth noting. It would be important to investigate the role of such conservative groups in sponsoring and circulating, and thus helping to make publicly legitimate, positions that have been discredited scientifically many times before.

li See Apple, Official Knowledge, pp. 61-62.

lii Examples of more democratic responses can be found in Michael W. Apple and James A. Beane, eds. Democratic Schools (Washington, D.C.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1995).

liii Ibid.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 97 Number 3, 1996, p. 419-445
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 1396, Date Accessed: 1/22/2022 6:44:07 PM

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