Oh, the power of one angry mother!
It’s not like we weren’t warned, by people like the Texas Freedom Network. The last round of “book approvals” by the Texas State Board of Education introduced some stunning inaccuracies into books used in Texas history, geography and economics classrooms. GOP appointees and board members worked hard to make sure even correct history standards could be skewed in actual texts.
One Houston-area mother saw her son’s text for world geography, videoed the thing and put it up on Facebook. Surprisingly, the publisher, McGraw-Hill, backed down, and promised fixes.
Here’s the video, from Rusty Styles:
The good news? This one angry mom got McGraw-Hill to take the ethical path, and promise to fix the caption. On Facebook again, McGraw-Hill said:
This week, we became aware of a concern regarding a caption reference to slavery on a map in one of our world geography programs. This program addresses slavery in the world in several lessons and meets the learning objectives of the course. However, we conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves.
We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.
McGraw-Hill Education is committed to developing the highest quality educational materials and upholding the academic integrity of our products. We value the insight the public brings to discussions of our content.
World geography was usually taught in the 9th grade in Texas; recent changes in requirements pushed world geography to a lesser status; many Texas kids get to pick between world geography and world history (both used to be required).
Students are old enough to need to know the truth on these issues. That is not to say that history books should stretch or chop the truth at any time, but it is to note that students in early high school are developing an ethical outlook on their lives. Adults, including book publishers, need to lead exemplary lives.
What other errors didn’t get the public scrutiny they deserved a few years ago?
Any other angry moms out there?
- Portal to Texas Freedom Network’s (TFN) extensive reports on problems with texts adopted under the 2010 Social Studies standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS); there are lots of other problems around slavery in the various texts
- Historians warned us, back in 2010, that this was a problem
- Incidentally, the gone-but-not-forgotten CSCOPE collaborative by Texas teachers helped to fight this kind of history revisionism with accurate history sources and lesson plans. That’s why the Texas right wing attacked CSCOPE.