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Texas Rejects Proposal for Expert Review of Textbook Errors

Texas Rejects Proposal for Expert Review of Textbook Errors

In case you missed it, in early October a mother in Texas brought attention to errors in a McGraw-Hill textbook used in her son’s history class.

The textbook featured several inaccuracies in its reference to the slave trade, referring to slaves as “immigrants” and “workers” and consequentially raising serious concerns about the textbook’s accuracy. Says one excerpt:

"“The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations."

In response to the controversy, McGraw-Hill Education agreed to fix its depiction of slave labor as not immigration but rather a forced migration to “emphasize that their work was done as slave labor.”

This update was immediately reflected in the online version of the textbook, and McGraw-Hill Education is offering to replace the textbooks in schools with a corrected copy of the print version. The company is also now working to increase the importance of language awareness by offering lesson plans based on the subject.

"We have also offered an alternative to schools – to provide a corrected caption to place over the incorrect one. We believe there are opportunities to use our apology and the attention raised around this difficult issue in a positive way as a learning moment. To that end, we have created a lesson plan on the topics of communication, language awareness, and cultural competency that we are providing free of charge for teachers to use while discussing the content – or indeed to harness the moment of replacing the offensive wording of the old caption with the new caption," said Catherine Mathis of Mcgraw-Hill Education in an e-mail.


This, in part, prompted Texas’ State Board of Education to consider the creation of an expert panel to review inaccuracies and factual errors in the textbook approved for and used in its public schools.

When the 15-member elected board met yesterday, however, they rejected the proposal in a 7-8 vote, said The Texas Tribune.

Members who rejected the proposal, David Bradley and Geraldine Miller, told the Tribune they voted against it because "it would send a signal that the current textbook adoption process isn't sound and unnecessarily add an additional layer of bureaucracy to the process.”

Many of the opposing board members also held issue with the fact that Texas-based academics could be appointed to the panel. They argued that the “philosophical differences” between the board and the professors would create tension.

Undeniable, however, is that the social studies textbooks being circulated throughout the state are oftentimes in need of review and correction.

"Academics and members of the public from across the political spectrum detailed what they perceived as crucial flaws — or omissions — in the social studies textbooks the board approved last fall, including inaccurate descriptions of world religions and out-of-date racial terminology. Publishers made dozens of changes in response to that input,” the article said.

Though creating an expert panel did not pass, the board has been successful in passing other measures to facilitate textbook review.

It has passed measures to help increase public participation in the review process as well as a measure to hold publishers accountable for error.

Correction: Education World previously indicated that McGraw-Hill Education would not be replacing the print version of its World Geography textbook with the correction of the error in language. It has indeed printed a new version and is offering this version to schools to be shipped shortly.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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