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From: Bits_of_Magic@cup.portal.com Subject: Fundies Attack Hand-Puppet Message-ID: <40556@cup.portal.com> Date: 25 Mar 91 20:53:32 GMT From the 25 March 1991 San Jose Mercury News... PUMSY IGNITES PROTEST (there is a picture of a dragon hand-puppet with the caption: "Pumsy, the dragon hand-puppet used to promote self-esteem among elementary-school students, is prompting protests by Christian fundamentalist parents in Madera.") PARENTS RALLY, PULL KIDS FROM CLASS MADERA (AP) -- Pumsy, a blue hand-puppet dragon created to help improve a child's self-image, has sparked a roar of protest in this San Joaquin Valley farming community. "This program leads children astray because it is teaching them that they don't need God in their lives -- that they can solve problems without God's help," said the Rev. Roger Leach of Valley West Christian Center. "Pumsy in Pursuit of Excellence," a self-esteem program aimed at second-, third- and fourth-graders, was designed to teach young students to deal with problems. But Christian fundamentalist parents began taking children out of the classrooms, eventually withdrawing 15 of the 500 students enrolled, and religious groups started rallying against Pumsy. Charges of mind control, hypnosis and secular humanism forced district officials to halt the program and investigate last fall. The school board reinstated Pumsy this month, but the controversy may undercut the program, used in more than 12,000 elementary schools nationwide. "I would bet money that no other teacher is going to teach it," counselor Michael Daniel said. The program was designed by Jill Anderson of Oregon, who says Madera is the first district to pull it. "It's a censorship issue when Pumsy is pulled from a classroom," she said. The program is a combination of reading about Pumsy and her friends, singing songs and discussing situations Pumsy gets into. Throughout the course, letters are sent to the parents explaining current Pumsy topics. "I thought it was a terrific program," Daniel said. "It presented self- esteem in a very concrete way." Even after the course ended, teachers said students were using lessons learned through Pumsy to deal with other classroom issues. But opponents say the Pumsy program goes against their religious beliefs because it teaches self-sufficiency.

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