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The Great Textbook War

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The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Charleston native Trey Kay examines the 1974 textbook controversy in the radio documentary, “The Great Textbook War.”

In 1974, Kanawha County was the first battleground in the American culture wars. Controversy erupted over newly-adopted school textbooks. School buildings were hit by dynamite and Molotov cocktails, buses were riddled with bullets, journalists were beaten and surrounding coal mines were shut down by protesting miners.

Textbook opponents believed the books were teaching their children to question their authority, traditional values and the existence of God.

Textbook supporters said children needed to be exposed to a wide variety of beliefs and experiences, and taught to make their own decisions.

To stream the full piece, use the streaming player at the top of the page.


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