|ALBANY, NY-The Upstate New York Coalition for Democracy has issued a survey to determine the extent to which "Radical Right" activity has impacted on the public schools.
Coalition co-chairs Blue Carreker and Woody Murphy sent the survey in April to superintendents and other school officials out of their concern for the "attempts of political and religious extremists to impose their religious, social, and moral values on all of us, and to limit the free and open discussion that is the basis of our democratic process and electoral system."
In their letter accompanying the survey, Carreker and Murphy state that their first task is to survey upstate New York in order "to develop an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the nature and extent of activity intended to break down the constitutional separation between church and state."
Among the organizations listed in the survey as engaged in "radical right activity" are the American Center for Law and Justice, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, and the Rutherford Institute. Lumped alongside them are Aryan Nation, Ku Klux Klan, militia groups, and Neo-Nazis.
Survey respondents are asked about their familiarity with the "rhetoric often used by the Radical Right" (e.g., "dumbing down" of schools), attempts to remove materials from school libraries, support of a reduction of public funding of the arts, and support of organizations and churches that have endorsed school board candidates or questioned the constitutionality of the separation of church and state.
The survey also asks about votes on tax increases for public schools, controversial curricula (e.g., family life, multiculturalism, self-esteem programs, drug education, and sex education), and attacks on teachers and school officials. The survey requests the names of school board members who support parental rights, phonics, abstinence education and back to basics, as well as the names of those who oppose multiculturalism, Outcome-Based Education, globalism, self-esteem curricula, the occult or Satanism, cooperative learning, and Head Start.
Respondents are asked to attach copies of letters from organizations that threaten legal action due to a violation of a student's religious freedom, as well as from parents who have written to exempt their children from courses on evolution, values clarification, non-academic personality tests, curricula pertaining to drugs and alcohol, discussion of the occult, education in human sexuality, globalism and anti-nationalistic curricula.
The group describes itself as "non-partisan, dedicated to upholding democracy and the constitutional rights of all people" and "committed to supporting and promoting diversity and mutual respect."
The coalition includes the Adirondack Religious Coalition for Choice, Family Planning Advocates of New York State, National Women's Political Caucus of New York, National Education Association of New York, New York State Alliance for Arts Education, People for the American Way Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Health Services of NENY, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, and the Empire State Pride Agenda.