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Education

Texas Narrowly Rejects Allowing Academics To Fact-Check Public School Textbooks (csmonitor.com) 337

jriding writes with news that in a 8-7 vote the Texas State Board of Education rejected a plan to create a group of state university professors to fact-check textbooks approved for the state's 5.2 million public-school students. The CS Monitor reports: "The Board of Education approves textbooks in the nation's second-largest state and stood by its vetting process — despite a Houston-area mother recently complaining that a world geography book used by her son's ninth grade class referred to African slaves as 'workers.' The publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, apologized and moved to make immediate edits."
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Texas Narrowly Rejects Allowing Academics To Fact-Check Public School Textbooks

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  • In other news... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cutriss ( 262920 )

    Slashdot ownership overwhelmingly rejects having article summaries proofread.

    "Texa"...Give me a break.

  • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

    They obviously failed their spelling class in "Texa".

  • by freak0fnature ( 1838248 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:46AM (#50961575)
    The 'facts' are not always truth, and the reviewers have their own bias. Here is a great example, the War of 1812. In the US they teach how England was the belligerent and that it was a war between the US and England, defending the US from England. In Canada, they teach that the US was the aggressor. In other parts of the world they teach that the US sided with Napoleon and include the war as part of the Napoleonic wars. Which is truth?
    • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @10:15AM (#50961815)
      "Well, what I told you was true, from a certain point of view." - Obi-wan Kenobi

      They're all partly true, and partly incorrect, as each only tells part of a larger story.

      -The USA cited British impressment of sailors, interference in trade, and other such provocations by Britain, as part of its declaration of war. To a degree, this is true from the American viewpoint at the time (the British didn't see it that way of course), as many Americans felt that way.

      -One of the other goals stated by pro-war American politicians at the time was the annexation of Canada (they thought the Canadians would, to borrow a more recent phrase, "greet them as liberators"). During the course of the war, the USA tried to invade Canada on several occasions, only to meet with failure. Thus, it's certainly reasonable for Canadians to have seen things that way.

      -The war took place during the final years of the Napoleonic Wars, in which Britain was the leader of the anti-Napoleon coalition (having been the only one to remain at war the entire time). Several of the major reasons cited for the war arose from British actions against France, such as blocking trade, impressment of sailors, and so forth, so it's certainly fair to view the war as part of the Napoleonic Wars. That said, the USA did not ally with France, nor was its conclusion tied to that of the war against Napoleon, and the USA and France did not assist or cooperate with each other in any military ventures during the conflict.
    • The 'facts' are not always truth, and the reviewers have their own bias. Here is a great example, the War of 1812. In the US they teach how England was the belligerent and that it was a war between the US and England, defending the US from England. In Canada, they teach that the US was the aggressor. In other parts of the world they teach that the US sided with Napoleon and include the war as part of the Napoleonic wars. Which is truth?

      All of the above?

  • Fer sure (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:54AM (#50961617)

    Whah, hail no!!! We don' want none o' them smarty pants egghead perfessers and braniacs messing' with our beloved holy sacred bullshit stories, or where will it end?

    Purty soon lil' Johnny and Janey won't be believin' that this here Earth is flat an' was given to us personally by Jebus Christ hisself!!

    And the so-called "slaves", they wuzn't slaves, they wuz "involuntary happy helpers" who got free food and shelter!

    Not only that, but mah ancestors hunted dinosaurs with a flintlock way back when, it sez so in mah Holy Book, Not that OTHER filthy dirty lyin' FAKE "holy book" that those differnt' lookin' peeple read from, 'cuz they's all goin' ta' HAIL when they die, yes siree, mah pappy done tol' me so.

  • by Rob Lister ( 4174831 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @10:00AM (#50961673)
    In his subjectively honest autobiography "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!", Richard Feynman devotes a chapter (Judging Books by Their Covers) to this and related issues in textbooks. The truth of the matter is the books go mostly un-reviewed. Sure, they hire teams of committees to review them, but more likely than not, nobody on any committee so much as opens them up, much less fact-checks them. They are however lavished with free dinners, vacations, and other graf. The book deals are worth millions, after all.

    He recounts when he was on such a committee and was unable to get a criticism in edgewise.

    Now, add some religion, politics and general bureaucratic incompetence to that and what you end up with is an all but worthless textbook and a keen hope for a teacher that can teach around it.

    Meh. My kids are grown and gone. I wish them luck.
    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

      Meh. My kids are grown and gone. I wish them luck.

      My kids are not grown. We homeschool them.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Isn't that in "What do you care what other people think?" ?

  • Feynmann (Score:5, Insightful)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @10:16AM (#50961839) Journal
    Having no personal experience in choosing textbooks (just buying many of the assigned texts in college - not much choice there), my view on the process is heavily influenced by Richard Feynmann's recounting the time he served on the California Curriculum Commission in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynmann. For those who haven't read it before, here's his chapter on Judging Books by Their Covers [textbookleague.org].
  • I'd be interested to know who actually chose to use the word "worker." Was it the author or the editor and what is their ideological proclivity?

    • I'd be interested to know who actually chose to use the word "worker." Was it the author or the editor and what is their ideological proclivity?

      I'd be interested in knowing if they referred to them only as workers, or if they were first referred to as slaves, because slaves are workers and it's only disingenuous to use that word someplace in your copy if you don't first point out that they are in slavery. Sometimes a job is done by both slaves and employed workers, and both of those classes of people are workers. Of course, this being Texas, it was probably wholly inappropriate, but I'd still like to see the offending copy.

    • I'd be interested to know who actually chose to use the word "worker." Was it the author or the editor and what is their ideological proclivity?

      Probably someone who wanted to make a point about slavery and the issue of labor supply and demand in the colonies, something that is important and relevant in US history. It's not like they were trying to hide that these were slaves, since they were actually clear in the same sentence that these "workers" were brought in by the "Slave Trade".

      A bigger question is wh

    • I'd be interested to know who actually chose to use the word "worker." Was it the author or the editor and what is their ideological proclivity?

      Hard to say, but given that the word 'slaves' was already used previously in the sentence, best practice in English writing is not to use the word again, but to use another similar word.

  • Doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quietwalker ( 969769 ) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Thursday November 19, 2015 @11:11AM (#50962227)

    You have to realize how politicized and religiously bent the texas government is. Any vetting group would be made up of specifically hand-picked individuals who would meet certain religious and political views. It would be about as academic as the Westboro Baptist Church.

  • State of Education (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @11:31AM (#50962421)
    This is just one more indication of the sorry state of education in our country. Why should we present accurate, fair, and objective material to our students? It seems to me that this is an effort to protect the teaching of creationism, something that has no scientific grounding and is pure religious mythology.
  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @12:28PM (#50962849)

    “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."

    There are indeed two massive errors in that sentence. First, the total number of slaves brought to the entire US from Africa was about 388000, and less than half a million if you count other points of origin, like the Carribean, not "millions". Second, most of those slaves weren't brought to the "southern United States" because they didn't exist yet, they were brought to British colonies that happen to be where the southern United States is located today.

    It was European colonialism that forced more than 10 million Africans into slavery, and only a few percent of those slaves ended up in the territory of the US, most of them before the US even existed.

    • The number error is significant, but the distinction between the British colonies and the southern U.S. which they became is minor (although it would probably be worth adding a parenthesis mentioning the fact that most were brought before Independence).
  • Keep the oil fields and sell the rest to Mexico. Should solve a lot of problems.

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