Steven Baldwin is the co-author of the nonfiction work, From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth About America's Public Schools. In this interview, Baldwin talks about what prompted him to write this book, its goal, and the state of American public schools today. Have our public schools lost their sense of values? Do you know what's really going on at your local public school? Are today's schools laboratories for disaster, as the author himself states in the book? You'll have to read this controversial book to find out.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Steven. What prompted you to write this book?
What got me going on this book project was the large number of frustrated parents who contacted me about various concerns while I was Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee in the California Legislature. These stories all had patterns, such as the refusal of our educational leaders to listen to the concerns of parents.
What is your goal with this book?
The goal is to make sure parents understand that the public schools of today have little in common with the public schools of a generation ago, and that they need to be involved in the schools if they truly want to know what’s going on.
Who is its target audience?
Parents of school age children and taxpayers.
Did the book require a lot of research?
Many of the stories were brought to my attention by parents; others were stories I read or heard about and I then tracked the parents down.
How long did it take you to write it?
It took eight years to collects all the stories.
How was your experience in looking for a publisher?
We didn’t find the right publisher until six months ago, so it was a frustrating experience up until then.
How have U.S. public schools come to this? Who or what, in your opinion, is the main culprit?
Most parents and taxpayers assume the schools “know what’s best,” but this book is suggesting that, in fact, not only do our schools not know what is best for our children, but in many cases they engage in activities that are harmful to our children. Some of this is, unfortunately, a reflection of our culture. As we have moved away from a society based on a Judeo-Christian ethical system and worldview, so have our schools. But also, public schools have a monopoly. Those who want to leave for a private school must pay twice. Like all monopolies, this system is not that responsive to taxpayers and parents; they’re not focused on providing the best service possible because they can produce a shoddy service and still have plenty of customers.
Where is your book available?
Not sure yet – hopefully in bookstores everywhere.
Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
In the '60s there was a popular bumper sticker that read, “Question Authority.” Well I think that cliché applies to our public schools more than ever.
Thanks for your time, Steven.