- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

NEW YORK — Despite mounting public criticism, state education officials refuse to remove from the school system a book titled “This Is My House,” which depicts typical Americans as homeless people living in cars.

“This is where I live right now. My family is staying in our car,” reads the text by author Arthur Dorros. “We will move into a house when we can.”

The accompanying drawing shows a scowling white mother and two children sitting in a car parked in a dilapidated urban neighborhood of graffiti-covered houses with boarded-up windows. An empty lot is strewn with trash and a discarded tire. The book purports to illustrate how people live in countries around the world.

Below the caption of the title illustration is an apparent “ebonic” spelling of the phrase reading: “This Iz My Hows.” Ebonics is a black vernacular advocated by some educators.

The collection of drawings includes pictures of smiling families in Mongolia living in a neat and carpeted tent; in Russia, a sturdy log cabin; and in Mali, a mud-brick building.

The Dorros book, published in 1992 by Scholastic, has been in the elementary school system for several years. It has drawn the wrath of state Sen. Martin J. Golden, Brooklyn Republican, Michael R. Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York state, parents and at least one state educator.

A parent brought the text to Mr. Golden’s attention. “Not only this book, but other books in the system, should be pulled because we’re shoving multiculturalism down our children’s throats,” the senator said in an interview. He wrote state Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills in January, urging him to remove the book from the “suitable text” list.

In reply, Mr. Mills wrote a letter saying he saw “no reason to overrule the judgment of educators,” adding that “This Iz My Hows” is a phonetic pronunciation.

Undeterred, Mr. Golden wrote Board of Regents Chancellor Robert M. Bennett, saying, “While we all know that there are situations like the one depicted in the book, we also know that this is not the norm.”

Mr. Bennett has not replied to the senator’s letter, but his spokesman, Jonathan Berman, said, “It’s my guess that the commissioner’s decision will stand.” The state Education Department lists the book among 120 titles deemed suitable for those studying English as a second language.

Education writer and lecturer Candace de Russy, a State University of New York trustee, calls multiculturalism Marxist in origin and says the book is an example of “the propagandizing of a generation of Americans.”

At the root of such teaching, she said, is “a Utopian belief in absolute equality. Ultimately, if you hold all cultural practices equal, you can then equate democracy with tyranny.”

Democrats in the Senate and in the Assembly, where they hold a majority, play a major role in selecting the regents, who in turn elect a chancellor and the state education commissioner. The board and the education department set state policy for students in preschool through graduate school.

Mr. Long, the Conservative Party chairman, said he doesn’t believe in censorship, but called for removal of the Dorros book. “Administrators must end their social engineering and feel-good curriculum and get back to the basics that students need for employment,” he said.

Mr. Dorros could not be reached for comment, but a visit to his Web site reveals an array of publications that concentrate on diversity. In a link titled “Teachers Resource File,” an overview of the suggested study program said the lessons will emphasize that the Constitution has its roots in the Great Law of Peace created by the Iroquois confederacy.

“It will help students see the similarities between the two covenants and acknowledge the contribution of the Great Law of Peace to the U.S. Constitution,” the overview said.

A note copyright page for “This Is My House,” reads: “The houses pictured in this book are not the only types to be found in the respective countries. In any country, many types of housing can be found.”

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