Another Virginia district tosses out inaccurate history texts

It’s a rational decision, but I wonder:  What will teachers use other than these texts?

From NEA’s morning news update:

Virginia District To Remove Erroneous History Textbooks From Classrooms.

The Washington Post (1/8, Sieff) reported, “Fairfax [VA] school officials have decided to pull a textbook in which historians have found dozens of errors. Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Jack D. Dale said that fourth-grade history will be taught using supplemental materials until errors in ‘Our Virginia, Past and Present’ are corrected in a subsequent edition.” According to the Post, “A state-appointed panel of historians in December found dozens of additional errors in ‘Our Virginia’ and ‘Our America to 1865,’ both of which were published by Connecticut-based Five Ponds Press.”

McCartney: Virginia Schools Should Insist On Full Refund For Error-Filled Textbooks. Robert McCartney wrote in a column for the Washington Post (1/9), “Among Northern Virginia school systems wrestling with how to handle a wildly erroneous fourth-grade social studies textbook, Loudoun County initially received the gold star. Loudoun yanked the book, ‘Our Virginia: Past and Present,’ when the first falsehood – describing nonexistent battalions of black Confederate soldiers – was discovered in October. … By contrast, Fairfax and Arlington were content just to cover up the offending sentence with a blank sticker.” According to McCartney, “There can be only one acceptable solution. The small publishing company responsible for this fiasco, Five Ponds Press of Weston, Conn., should agree right away to cover the entire price” to replace the books.

Once more the burden of education falls on teachers, to either make sure the inaccuracies in the books do not get taught and to substitute accurate stuff, or to find alternative texts.

Teachers:  Can’t have education without ’em.

More, resources:

3 Responses to Another Virginia district tosses out inaccurate history texts

  1. george.w says:

    @Flatlander100: Teachers as “professionals”? I should think not! If teachers were professionals, we’d have to pay them accordingly, respect them accordingly, give them secure working conditions (meaning the freedom to innovate), put resources in their hands and pay them to go to conferences to share methodologies, etc. That does not fit the conservative notion of what teachers should be. Which is, you know, ideally the unmarried schoolmarm teaching the kids exactly what their parents want; no less and more importantly, no more.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Sidaway, Kendrick Brix. Kendrick Brix said: VA District tosses history text book for multiple factual errors. […]


  3. flatlander100 says:

    Many yeas ago, one of my children, in a public elementary school in Louisiana, brought home some study sheets from a “history instructional program” the school district had bought about the founding of the US. Since I then taught American Revolution in the History department at LSU, I took a good look at what came home. Several errors, including a statement that “the Continental Congress wrote the United States Constitution.”

    I sent a polite note to the teacher next day, pointing out the error. I assumed the teacher, a fellow professional, would want to know about the error in the handouts. Sadly, no. What I got back was a shirty note saying that if I had any complaints about the handout, I could “take it up with the publisher.” The accuracy of the handout, she said, was not her responsibility.

    Same thing happened a bit later. At a teacher conference, mid term [elementary school again], I brought along a recent math test, and noted that one of the questions [multiple choice] had no correct answer. It was a simple misprint. None of the available answers were correct. Her reply: “The school district supplies the math program and exams. I am not responsible for the accuracy of the test answers in the grading key.” That one we took up with the principal. Again, I was surprised. As a teacher myself, I needed to know, and know fast, if there was an error in the tests I gave. [I offered bonus points to the first student to spot an error in any of my tests. Rarely happened, but occasionally it did, and I needed to know it to fix it and fix it fast.] I assumed all teachers, professionals, thought the same. I was wrong.

    I wish those were the only examples. They were not. Elementary school again. Quiz came home on geography. Question was: “To travel to Hawaii, you must take a (a)boat (b) airplane (c) car. ” My kid checked “boat.” It was marked wrong, and “airplane” was marked as the correct answer. Again, sent a polite note, pointing out that Hawaii was an island, and that cruise liners sailed there all the time, so that both “boat” and “airplane” were correct answers. Reply from teacher: “the grading key supplied by the company says “airplane” is the correct answer. You can take the matter up with the publisher if you like.” And she supplied a mailing address.

    Colleagues at the U where I taught shared similar tales.

    I’m done teaching now, but even now, a quarter century after all the above happened, I’m beat understanding how a teacher — any teacher any level from elementary school to grad school — can possibly think he or she is not responsible for the accuracy of whatever is handed our or whatever test are given.

    Puzzles me still. Or don’t teachers think of themselves as professionals any more?


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