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272 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2003
"For much of the 20th century, southern classrooms treated Black history — when they touched the subject at all — as a sideshow to a white-dominated narrative.
Teachers taught students to sing Dixie and memorize long lists of forgettable governors. Civil War battles got described in detail. Textbooks celebrated the violent overthrow of democratically-elected, multiracial governments. Lynching went unmentioned. The evils of slavery got cursory acknowledgments — and quick dismissals.
“It should be noted that slavery was the earliest form of social security in the United States,” a 1961 Alabama history textbook said, falsely.
The same forces that took over public spaces to erect monuments to the Confederacy and its white supremacist tenets also kept a tight grip on the history taught to Southern pupils. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) spent decades shaping and reshaping textbooks to put a strong emphasis on Lost Cause views of the Civil War and Reconstruction, which glorified the white supremacist foundations of the Confederacy and was used to justify segregation and authoritarian Jim Crow governance."
Quote source: The Montgomery Advertiser Dec 2020
"I cannot reproduce the stories, because some of them may yet appear one day as test passages. But I will paraphrase the story sufficiently so that the reader may judge whether the charge of bias is persuasive."I'm sorry, NO. As this author of this book, which clearly takes a negative stance against these kinds of reviews and their subsequent alterations, you'll forgive me if I don't trust that your assessment of THEIR intent is unbiased (irony!) and fairly represented.
CLASS DISTINCTIONS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD1) I don't know what kind of tone the ACTUAL story represented, because we're getting this paraphrased version of it.
The bias panel did not like a story about growing up in ancient Egypt. The story contrasted how people's ways of living varied in accordance with their wealth and status. Some lived in palaces, others were noblemen, others were farmers or city workers. The size and grandeur of one's house, said the story, depended on family wealth. To the naked eye, the story was descriptive, not judgemental. But the bias and sensitivity reviewers preferred to eliminate it, claiming that references to wealth and class distinctions had an "elitist" tone. The fact that these class distinctions were historically accurate was irrelevant to the reviewers. In the world that they wanted children to read about, class distinctions did not exist, not now and not in the past, either.
"Some of these replacements require writers and artists to tell lies about history. Until the latter decades of the twentieth century, most women who worked were in fact nurses, teachers, and secretaries; not many women were doctors, professors, managers, police officers, sports figures, and construction workers. To pretend otherwise is to falsify the past. It minimizes the barriers that women faced. It pretends that the gender equality of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries was a customary condition of the past."
"The MH guidelines express a barely concealed rage against people of European ancestry. They deride European Americans for exploiting slaves, migrant workers, and factory labor; they excoriate the land rapacity of the pioneers and mock their so-called courage in fighting Native Americans: 'Bigots and bigotry' say the guidelines, referring to European Americans, 'must be identified and discussed.' European Americans, the guidelines suggest, were uniquely responsible for bigotry and exploitation in all human history. Like the SF-AW guidelines, McGraw-Hill's advise writers to recognize that 'the very foundation that our country is built upon is modeled in part after tenets of the Iroquois Confederacy,' which is intended to raise Native American self-esteem and bring the European Americans down a few notches."
Feminist critics maintained that this gap was caused entirely by sexist language.
The books frequently quote historical figures or offer data without giving any sources for teachers and students who want to learn more, failing to demonstrate by deed the importance of presenting verifiable evidence. The reader must take it on faith that the information presented to them is accurate, because there is no way to check up on it.
He says, “Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education.” This, clearly expressed, means, “We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.”
Publishers of educational materials do not want controversy (general publishers, of course, love controversy because it sells books in a competitive marketplace). …And the best recipe for survival in a marketplace dominated by the political decisions of a handful of state boards is to delete whatever might offend anyone.
We do not know how these trends may yet affect the quality of our politics, our civic life, and our ability to communicate with one another somewhere above the level of the lowest common denominator. The consequences can’t be good.
Trying to protect his students' innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.
And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.
The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
"How far is it from here to Madrid?"
"What do you call the matador's hat?"
The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom
The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,
while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.