APS Pulls Factually-Challenged History Text from Classrooms

by ARLnow.com January 13, 2011 at 8:44 am 3,168 9 Comments

A fourth grade history textbook is being pulled from all Arlington County public schools because its contains numerous historical errors.

Controversy over the text, Our Virginia: Past and Present, erupted in October when it was revealed that the book contained a dubious passage about black soldiers fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Fairfax County schools announced on Friday that they would be pulling the text after dozens of additional errors were found. Yesterday, Arlington Public Schools followed suit.

“APS was notified by the [Virginia Department of Education] last Friday, January 7, of the specific errors in the Grade 4 text,” Arlington Public Schools said in a press release. “Based on that information, school officials feel it is in the best interest of students to remove the print version of the textbooks at this time.”

Teachers will use supplemental learning materials in classrooms until a corrected digital version of the textbook becomes available, likely at the end of the month. The publisher will provide corrected print editions of the textbook free of charge this summer.

The school system says it will help train parents who want to learn how to use the digital textbook.

Del. David Englin (D), who represents part of Arlington, has proposed a bill that would require experts to review textbooks before they could be certified for use in Virginia schools.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    Reminds me of an old Bob and Ray skit.

  • Iz Been Edumacated

    It’s funny…I actually remember reading that book in 4th grade and I remember “learning” that about the black soldiers. Even as a 4th grader I knew something was off with that.

  • Thanks for the Laugh, Arlington

    How much will Englin’s bill cost the taxpayers? Alternate solution: hold Five Ponds accountable, i.e. cancel their contracts, as an example to other textbook providers.

  • bennynojets

    I am just curious how this happens. Does no one proof read text books?

    • metro

      Text books really aren’t proofread at all, the way they’re approved is just one big pile of groupthink. If you’re really interested, you should check out “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen.

    • mehoo

      Having worked in this business, I can tell you that some texts are rigorously proofed and fact checked, while obviously others aren’t. It just depends on the publisher.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    Didn’t know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Magna Carta while living at Mt. Vernon!

  • This is a shame–the larger problem with the textbook isn’t just the egregious errors, it’s the lack of argument or coherence. Correcting the errors will be like repainting a rusty car. They should go to an entirely different book.

    Instead, they are going back to Five Ponds Press, which is basically a chop shop aimed at cranking out cheap books to game the SOLs. The larger problem is the SOL’s and the incoherence they impose.


  • Curious

    What is the truth about slaves’ roles during the Civil War ? Did some travel with the southern soldiers as servants or cooks ?


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