Incredible shrinking humans, a king's troubles, Mario Cuomo's ambition, and other matters. KORRECT IN KINDERGARTEN

(FORTUNE Magazine) – And now, the item everybody has been waiting for -- the report, promised a fortnight ago, about the ideological attack on Babar the elephant by politically correct educators. We had learned of the attack from a quite fascinating New Republic article by Kay Sunstein Hymowitz, whose byline appeared under the slightly misleading headline BABAR THE RACIST. In fact, the text nowhere directly imputes racism to the elephant king. It merely quotes educator Patricia Ramsay, director of the Gorse Child Studies Center at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, as averring that the pachyderm potentate is a highly suspect role model because he ''extols the virtues of a European middle-class lifestyle and disparages the animals and people who have remained in the jungle.'' So the Babar books have been pulled off the shelves at Gorse, and tots requesting the works of Laurent de Brunhoff (main creator of the stories) are routinely strung up by the thumbs until they scream for books about little boys wishing to play with dolls. It was foretellable that the correctniks would get agitated about kiddy literature, most of which is, from their point of view, insufficiently ''multicultural.'' Quite a lot of kidlit does indeed assume, as charged, that Western middle-class attitudes are held by the readers and their parents, and quite a lot of educationists are out there laboring loonily to change it all. An Anti-Bias Curriculum, published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is a treasure-trove of antistereotypical thinking and has an appendix recommending terrific stories for kids, ranging from My Daddy Don't Go to Work to My Daddy Is a Nurse. Never to be outdone in these matters, New York State is in the process of switching to its own multicultural curriculum, and some of its developers are insisting that kindergarteners not be exposed to the word ''Indian.''

Waterloo, Iowa, a venue we had not exactly equated with Greenwich Village, now has an MCNS (for ''multicultural nonsexist'') program in which kindergarten and first-grade students learn to count to ten in Swahili. In the second grade, they get to do it in Choctaw and also prepare for grownuphood by redesigning ads (collected by the teacher) to ensure that minority-group members, females, the elderly, and the disabled are represented equally in the illustrations. It could be useful training, at that. The MCNS handbook states that the teacher in Waterloo will then send their findings to the product advertisers. With the exception of that wisecrack about hanging kids by the thumbs, we are not making any of this up. But about Babar. Keeping Up tracked down Ms. Ramsay at her vacation place and asked politely what is wrong with the mammoth in question, generally identified as kind, wise, and caring. ''It's sad,'' Patricia responded. ''They are very charming stories. I remember liking Babar as a child. But he represents views associated with world imperialism and Victorian England. It all suggests the superiority of one cultural group over another.'' We gather that Babar is not the only character in trouble with the PC people. In the course of brooding over the challenges she faces, Ms. Ramsay also mentioned the recent retrograde re-release (on videotape) of Peter Pan, a story incorporating a sequence featuring wild Indians. Alas, a thought controller's work is never done.