Friday, April 11, 2008

Surprise! Public school textbook is biased

From KTAR in Arizona:

A New York-based think tank is criticizing a high school textbook as being ``too conservative."

The Center for Inquiry says the book, "American Government," contains numerous erroneous statements, including one that scientists aren't sure global warning exists. The center issued a scathing report about the book after a New Jersey high school senior raised concerns about its content.

The book is used in some Arizona high schools, and the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, says there's no reason to pull it from classes.

"The mere fact that a textbook may have a statement that can be argued about doesn't mean anything because it's up to the teacher to present the student with a lot of different sides about all kinds of issues," Horne said.

The textbook in question was written by conservative scholars (and sometime Republican officials) John Dilulio and James Wilson.

Of course, it's worth noting that conservatives have complained for years that many textbooks display liberal bias. Maybe Dilulio and Wilson thought that turnabout was fair play.

As I've written in the past, if we insist on giving government a virtual monopoly over indoctrinating ... err ... educating young minds, it's inevitable that the curriculum will become a political football battled over by competing factions seeking to mold the next generation.

Wrote yours truly in a 2004 column:

It's no surprise that people compete to have their ideas taught in the public schools. Despite the growing popularity of homeschooling, vouchers and other schooling alternatives, most American children learn in classrooms supported by their parents' tax dollars. After paying those taxes, few families can afford alternative schools, so determined parents fight to mold government institutions to resemble the schools they would pick if they had the resources, and they are assisted by political groups interested in shaping public debate. Nobody wants hateful ideas and propaganda force-fed to their children, but people don't always agree on which ideas are hateful and which information is false. As a result, lessons are often crafted to please, or avoid offending, those with the most political clout.

Biased textbooks aren't just unfortunate, they're inevitable.



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