Error-filled textbooks prompt Va. to call for revamped approval process
By Kevin Sieff Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Reports of extensive errors in Virginia social studies textbooks prompted state education officials on Wednesday to propose revamping the approval process to prevent the issuing of flawed textbooks. Fairfax County officials also said they may discontinue using one of the books.
The new state procedures would require that publishers hire context experts and provide extensive new documentation for claims in their textbooks. Education Department staff also would do more-detailed reviews before passing the books to the small groups of classroom teachers who traditionally have reviewed them, according to a statement from Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright.
“Virginia students deserve textbooks that reflect the quality of the commonwealth’s nationally recognized history and social science standards, and as the errors found by the reviewers clearly show, the review process must be improved,” Wright said.
Proposed changes would require the Virginia Board of Education’s approval.
The Education Department began increasing its scrutiny of textbooks after The Washington Post reported in October that one provided to fourth-graders, “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” included a controversial claim that thousands of African American soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War. The claim is often made by Confederate heritage groups but rejected by most historians. That book’s author, Joy Masoff, has since apologized for that problem, as has the publisher, Five Ponds Press of Weston, Conn.