Virginia’s History Text Disaster

No, Virginia - These guys had pretty much gone the way of the DoDo Bird by the 15th Century...

This one first surfaced in October, when a controversy erupted due to a claim in a History Text used in Virginia 5th Grade Elementary Schools contained the assertion that “thousands of black soldiers served in the confederate army”, and that black soldiers fought under Stonewall Jackson…

Neither of which is in the least bit true. Turns out the person who writes History Texts for Five Ponds Press, the company which has a lock on Virginia textbooks – isn’t a Historian. And Five Ponds Press doesn’t have their textbooks vetted by professionals prior to publication, with History Texts written by Joy Masoff.

How did Five Ponds get a lock on the Commonwealth’s textbooks? (Yes, Virginia is one of two Commonwealths in America! Extra points if you remember 10th Grade US History and the other one.)

It doesn’t appear to be anything nefarious. Virginia has a policy favoring small publishers. Second, Five Ponds reacted quickly in developing textbooks tailored to Virginia’s infamous “Standards of Learning” test…errrr… hygiene (I’m trying not to use the “s” word”!).

A combination of poor sourcing and fact checking by Five Ponds, which does $70 million a year worth of business with Virginia (who appear to be their sole, if not principal client) – and a complete breakdown by the Commonwealth in auditing the textbooks for accuracy has resulted in textbooks distributed throughout the School System with dozens, if not hundreds of errors.

In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of in 1917).

The text also claims that early Virginia settlers commonly wore full suits of Armor. Unfortunately for Five Ponds, Virginia was settled a few centuries after Knights in Shining Armor roamed the fields of Europe and the Middle East. By the 16th Century, muskets had pretty much rendered anything except a breastplate, and possibly a helmet obsolete.

Growing up in Virginia, I remember the pre-1970’s textbooks whose content was specified by the State Legislature. Replete with stories of “happy darkies” tending the fields as slaves in Antebellum heaven – let’s just say the Southern Myth was on full display in all it’s rancid glory. Some states, notably Texas and Arizona – apparently never left that era.

Some Va. history texts filled with errors, review finds

These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African American soldiers fought for the South in large numbers during the Civil War.

“Our Virginia: Past and Present,” the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians said, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, “Our America: To 1865.” A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation’s most stringent.

“I absolutely could not believe the number of mistakes – wrong dates and wrong facts everywhere. How in the world did these books get approved?” said Ronald Heinemann, a former history professor at Hampden-Sydney College. He reviewed “Our Virginia: Past and Present.”

In his recommendation to the state, Heinemann wrote, “This book should be withdrawn from the classroom immediately, or at least by the end of the year.”

The review began after The Washington Post reported in October that “Our Virginia” included a sentence saying that thousands of black soldiers fought for the South. The claim is one often made by Confederate heritage groups but rejected by most mainstream historians. The book’s author, Joy Masoff, said at the time that she found references to it during research on the Internet. Five Ponds Press later apologized.

The unusual review process involved five professional scholars. The results, said three of those involved in the process, proved disturbing. Some submitted lists of errors that ran several pages long. State officials plan to meet Jan. 10 to review the historians’ concerns. (more)

The Texas Text-twits Are At it Again

Fresh from disappearing minorities, including Thurgood Marshall and Caesar Chavez from textbook – The Texas Textbook Taliban is at it again…

This time trying to disappear one of the world’s major religions… Islam.

Textbooks May Be Too Pro-Islam, Anti-Christian, Texas State Education Board Says

Students in Texas may be getting a glorified view of Islam, according to some state education leaders who are pushing for a resolution that would denounce social studies textbooks as biased against Christianity.

Though the president of conservative-leaning Texas State Board of Educationsupports the measure as promotingreligious equality in schools, faith leaders and activists have condemned the board’s proposal as intolerant and anti-Muslim.

“It’s clearly just an attempt to propagandize the state’s student population against the faith of Islam,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington D.C.-based Council on Islamic-American Relations. “Somehow they were getting too rosy a picture of Islam.”

The Texas Board of Dis-Education… A group of sanctimonious conservative twits taking child molestation to a whole new level.

New Jim Crow – Conservatives Try to “Disappear” Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall From History Books

More racism from conservatives, this time in an effort which could result in the removal of mention of Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez from the history books utilized not only in Texas – but in schools throughout the country…

Cesar Chavez i 1969 Led Farm Workers Movement

Cesar Chavez i 1969 Led Farm Workers Movement

Texas Could Remove Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall from Public School Studies

The Texas State Board of Education is moving toward removing Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from the social studies curriculum taught to its 4.7 million public school students. According to one of the six “expert reviewers” revising the 1997 curriculum, Chavez “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movements certainly makes dubious that he is praiseworthy.” Another reviewer concluded that Marshall, a Supreme Court justice who as an attorney argued the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, is “not an appropriate example as a historical figure of influence.” These are not the rantings of powerless and fringe people; they are statements from those recommending a new curriculum to the full Board. And so during a week in which an African-American President’s appointee of the first Latino to the Supreme Court dominates the news, we have Texas – whose Governor spoke of “secession” earlier this year – trying to turn back social and racial progress.

Before Appointment ot the Supreme Court by President Johnson, Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he tried before the Supreme Court

Before Appointment ot the Supreme Court by President Johnson, Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he tried before the Supreme Court

Texas has an elected 15-member Board of Education, seven of which are viewed as social conservatives. The Board’s panel of experts to recommend new curriculum standards reflects this conservative perspective, which could soon result in a social studies classroom in which Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall are ignored but the motivational role of the Bible in the nation’s founding is highlighted.

So how does this impact schools outside of Texas? Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 146 other followers