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Cause springs from a question

Concerned Parents of Citrus County, the group leading a charge against self-esteem curricula being taught in public schools, is a modest-sized organization that has grown steadily since its inception.

About 75 people attended the group's most recent general meeting, held in February. That's up considerbly from from the handful of women who started publicly questioning the curricula last August.

The group has no national sponsor or affiliation, although the Christian Coalition's local chapter does lend support. The Christian Coalition is affiliated with conservative televangelist Pat Robertson.

Meetings are open, and members are eager to share insights and ideas, organizers say.

The group's basic cause: persuading the school system to drop all programs that involve progressive relaxation, guided imagery or "visualization," meditation, hypnosis and yoga _ what the group considers harmful tactics outside the education mission.

"It truly is a grass-roots level organization. They have formed on their own, under the direction of no national organization," said Carlton Taylor, Citrus coordinator for the Christian Coalition. "The Concerned Parents group is there to do nothing more than educate."

It all traces back to one woman's quest for information.

Karen Compostella wanted to know more about a self-esteem curriculum that featured a dragon puppet called Pumsy. Her child, a Citrus Springs Elementary pupil, told her about Pumsy.

School administrators were slow with answers, which Mrs. Compostella says made her suspicious. When she finally reviewed the information, Mrs. Compostella didn't like what she saw.

She did further research and talked to several other mothers. The women met with school officials in August. More parents joined the cause; eventually, they adopted the name and started meeting on an informal basis.

Mrs. Compostella, formerly Karen Hamilton, is 28. She grew up in Crystal River and attended Citrus schools. She stressed that her complaint is with the schools' programs, not their personnel.

"The educators in the education system were my teachers and principals and guidance counselors," she said. "They did an excellent job."

Anyone interested in learning more about Concerned Parents of Citrus County can call 344-0085 or write P.O. Box 2381, Inverness, FL 34451.