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today's textbooks: lies, revisions and the equator in Florida

What is your child being taught in school?

According this article in the Daily News, you may not be happy with the answer.

Ever wonder what your children might be learning when they hit the books in the New York City public schools?

A kinder, gentler definition of jihad. It really means "to do one's best to resist temptation and overcome evil."

An error-filled version of global geography. The equator actually passes through Florida, Texas and Arizona.

A saga of a swashbuckling hero of today who can be compared to ancient historical heroes dating to the Trojan War: Indiana Jones.

The world of 21st century textbook education is a learning laboratory in which agendas, ideologies and errors all too often trump balance, accuracy and fairness.

I'm taking a wild stab here, but I'm guessing that New York City is not the only place these textbook revisions are occurring.

One book in the school library states that Rev. Al Sharpton, hails from a "long tradition of activist ministers like Martin Luther King Jr."

Al Sharpton - publicity hound, ambulance chaser, obnoxious loudmouth, defender of Tawana Brawley. Hardly Rev. King material.

And while going out of their way to avoid textbooks with stereotypes or other non-politically correct phrases, the schools felt okay with this line from a history book: "Poor blacks in the cities often found themselves at the mercy of Jewish shopkeepers and landlords, who decided when and when not to advance credit to their customers."

There is also a whitewash of Louis Farrakhan, described as a "black American of achievement" who bears a "message no American can ignore." The Nation of Islam leader also shows a "willingness to forgive," the book claims.

Are we thinking of the same Farrakhan here, or is there a kinder, gentler Farrakhan walking around somewhere that we don't know about?

At least three schools have bought copies of "The American Vision," a 2003 high school history textbook, published by Glencoe McGraw-Hill, that was one of the first to write about the terror attacks. In a seven-page lesson on the massacre of 3,000 innocents, students are asked:

"What are the three main reasons certain Muslims became angry with the United States?"

"Why does American foreign policy anger Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East?"

Ah, yes. These books must be for that new course, "Root Causes 101," where the students are taught to always blame America first, that when your country is ambushed and bombed, it must have done something wrong to bring that on themselves.

Political correctness isn't the only thing wrong with the textbooks. They are filled with factual errors.

Prentice Hall's "Exploring Physical Science," a middle school science book used in Queens, confuses Newton (1643-1727) with Galileo (1564-1642). It also pictures the Statue of Liberty bearing the torch in her left hand and calls her skin bronze; actually, it's copper with a green patina, and she holds the lamp in her right hand. Corrections were made in a 1999 version, said spokeswoman Wendy Spiegel. But errors remain in thousands of 1997 editions still in circulation.

McGraw-Hill's "Human Heritage: A World History," a high school social studies text used in Brooklyn, incorrectly identifies Gerry Adams as "a Protestant leader." Actually, he's the Catholic firebrand who heads Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political wing.

A geography book states that the equator actually passes Florida, Texas and Arizona.

And, of course, we must protect our children from the horrors of artworks:

The cover of "Economics," a high school textbook due to enter city schools next year, sports a doctored photo of the New York Stock Exchange's landmark exterior.

With a pair of loincloths strategically inserted into the picture, publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston draped the private parts of the two heroic male figures Agriculture and Science, by name.

"The nudity was inappropriate for kids at this level," said Holt spokesman Rick Blake.

Don't worry about those copies of Teen People magazine on the library shelf, though. Those ads with butts bared and cleavage flowing aren't nearly as offensive as pieces of art outside of an American landmark.

The ridiculousness reaches levels so bizzare, I actually had to laugh out loud:

Stripped of relevant passages to avoid giving the slightest offense to anyone. Gail Stein, a French teacher at Long Island City High School in Queens, is the author of several popular French textbooks that deal with Gallic staples perfume, Champagne, chocolate mousse.

Then her publisher started getting complaints: Perfume was deemed sexist; not all women use it. A line about "bubbles in a glass of Champagne" might foster underage drinking. So out went the bubbly and all other offending references.

When "French is Fun" was released, one woman complained that using cognac in mousse would encourage drunkenness. So Stein's editors at Amsco School Publications asked her to change the next edition. Out went the cognac, out went the authenticity.

I'm just waiting for the lawsuit from some parent who claims that learning about Socrates caused her child to kill himself.

The famous 1896 picture of husband-and-wife scientists Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radioactivity in their Paris lab was reproduced in Holt's "SciencePlus: Technology and Society." But it was radically cropped to purge Pierre, who shared a 1903 Nobel Prize with his wife.

Holt's Blake said Marie "was a famous scientist in her own right" and that "some of her most important work took place after her husband died."

I'm waiting for the next version of the book, when all references to Nelson Mandela are edited out in order to give his ex-wife, Winnie, the limelight that she missed out on when standing in her husband's shadow. I wonder if they will doctor photos of the Clintons so as not to make students assume that Hillary rode her husband's coattails to the senate.

History also was fictionalized in McDougal Littell's "America's Past and Promise," taught to middle school students in Brooklyn. It prints a 1915 photo of men linking hands around the world's most massive tree, the General Sherman sequoia in California, with a caption that reads, "Conservationists link hands around a tree to stop loggers from cutting it down."

The sequoia was never threatened by loggers. The men were simply demonstrating its enormous girth.

Agenda, anyone? Could these books have been written and chosen for the district by - dare I say it - liberals?

Many of the older versions of textbooks had product placement - sticking a product like Frosted Flakes into a math word problem. A bill has been introduced in Albany to do away with product placement, which is probably the only decent suggestion in this whole article.

In the meantime, math problems in some classes continue to be formulated like this: "Will is saving his allowance to buy a pair of Nike shoes that cost $68.25. If Will earns $3.25 per week, how many weeks will he need to save?"

$3.25 a week?? The poor child must be working for Nike, not buying shoes from them!


How far can we, as parents or future parents (or not even parents, but people who depend on the education of today's children to preserve our history, and protect our future) let the various boards of education around the country tinker with the education of America's youth?

Revisionist history and silly displays of pro-feminism posturing, liberal agendas and the whitewashing of historical figures and places has no place in public education.

Our future looks very grim, indeed, if this is what the future leaders of our country are being taught.

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Comments

Even I know that the equator aint in Florida! I learnt that much in High Shcool! THey did also lernt us that America is hopping to someday move the equator more norther so we can has more day light all year around.
Edacation today is going in the drain! Save our childrens Edacation!

This is the inevitable result of government controlled education, pressure group politics, ignorant, whiny parents, and apathty towards school board elections. There is no solution, except encouraging your own kids to learn for themselves.

The government education system is broken beyond repair. Too many special interests have a vested interest in the status quo - it won't change anytime soon. We opted out and are homeschooling our kids.

Apparently you found this article as offensive as I did!

It would be interesting to know how corresponding books in private and religious schools deal with the same subjects. That could be a blockbuster article.

It would be interesting to know how corresponding books in private and religious schools deal with the same subjects. That could be a blockbuster article.

Oops, sorry about the double post

"What are the three main reasons certain Muslims became angry with the United States?"

hmmm. the she-was-asking-for-it defense. very nice.

i prefer the "sarah bernhardt is the capital of north dakota" variety of textbook error. these are too depressing.

THIS post should be required reading for every educator, politician, parent. As always, your incisive writing is much appreciated and admired.

This kind of idiocy really turns my crank. I always wonder what swamp the textbook publishers dredged in order to find the bottom feeders, mouthbreathers, and pinheads who devise these textbooks.

I also wonder which educationist dildo thought THIS was A Good Idea:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/02/education/02REGE.html?pagewanted=all&position=top

Worst of all, the people responsible for this crap have absolutely no sense of shame when confronted with their stupidity.

I've never really understood why the content of textbooks in the US is such a big deal - here schools decide which text books to buy based almost entirely on which ones they think are written in a style or presented in a way that will assist teachers in educating children according to the rules set out in the national curriculum.

There is never any suggestion that textbooks would be written with a mind to making sure that they were politically acceptable to school boards. For example, no science textbook here would be written without a section on evolution because it might affect sales. Here even religious schools (which are almost all grant aided by the state) teach evolution as a theory, rather than as one of many hypotheses as some US counties would like to do.

I guess it's just because we are a less religiously-divided country than the US.

I go to a Catholic high school, I assure you it is no better. Actually, it might be worse, because our books (many of the same books listed in the article..I had the Amsco french books for years) cost us money...about $537 a year to be exact.

Actually, on some days in late July, I do believe the equator sneaks up a tad and plants its ass squarely across Florida. Either that, or portions of the sun take their annual vacation to our fair state, causing things to spontaneously combust during that period.

Why Johnny can't read. Many teachers are dedicated and professional, but too many are incompetent. A qualified corps of teachers wouldn't put up with this shit, but the unions will never allow teacher testing.

Umm, Matt? Hypothesis and theory are synonyms.

this doesn't really have anything to do with the government running or not running the schools. this has to do with two things
1. school boards are afraid of lawsuits. they don't want to offend anyone or step on any toes even if that means we lose facts and lose the truth. People are too eager to sue and there are plenty of lawyers who encourage it.

2. michele's right. there is a liberal agenda. it's frightenng and insideous. they don't care if they teach "what happened" as long as those being taught are thinking "correctly". this carries the statement "the winner writes the history books" to the extreme. you can try to battle this by home schooling your kids, but you better get OLD books from the library to help you because there doesn't seem to be any accurate new textbooks. (well, there might be a math textbook out there that still has 2+2 right).
the real trick to fixing this in public schools is reviewing the textbooks before they are purchased. Personally, i'd rather have a slightly outdated, yet accurrate, text than a shiney new text that is less historically accurate than Orwell's 1984.

this form of cencorship should not be tolerated by anyone. i've heard the arguments. "we feel it's an accurate depiction of what was possible" or "this doesn't match what you were taught because it's writen from a different perspective" right down to "you weren't there, so you could not possibly know what did or didn't happen" They don't care what they teach your children. Make sure your children question EVERYTHING.

Umm, Larry? Hypothesis and theory are not synonyms (except when someone is being imprecise) - many people would have a better understanding of science if they realised this. A hypothesis is a suggestion for a way of explaining a set of observations. A theory is a hypothesis that has passed every test applied to it with the objective of trying to show that it does not adequately explain the observations. If a test (i.e. a set of observations) is applied to a theory and the theory fails to pass that test (i.e. fails to adequately explain the observations) then the theory has been falsified and other hypotheses will be more actively tested.

Thus, when an academic tells you that something is a theory, they almost certainly mean that it is an explanation of a set of observations that is the best available. Unfortunately some people don't know this, and so respond with 'but it's only a theory!' when the theory is one that they don't like.

Many academics say 'theory' because they are uncomfortable with the term 'fact': a theory may be very well respected because it passes every test applied to it - until it fails a test. Nevertheless, in scientific circles the term 'theory' is much closer to being a synonym of the term 'fact' than it is to being a synonym of the term 'hypothesis'.

See:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=hypothesis
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=theory

I'm a Student at Kutztown univ. and i'm researching info on: what components are actually considered in making a text book, through author's perspective before actually publishing one.

I'm a Student at Kutztown univ. and i'm researching info on: what components are actually considered in making a text book, through author's perspective before actually publishing one?