Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sex, politics, and textbooks plus lies

The article, Sex, politics and textbooks,” by Stephen James in Sacramento News and Review for Aug.3, was a reasonable description of the conflict over the inclusion of Gay and Lesbian people in the social sciences as presented by California textbooks. Unfortunately, the writer took the statement by Sabrina Lockhart, “We’re nationally recognized for our approach to selecting curriculum materials.” As a statement of fact.
Actually this statement is only propaganda. This is the viewpoint of the people in charge of education at the State Board of Education.
As a scholar in the field, and an author, I can tell you that many scholars totally disagree with this statement. Instead, as described in my book, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education,” (Merrill, Prentice/Hall 2000-2004) the California frameworks, the guides to textbook selection, and the state standards were hijacked by ultra conservative forces in 1987, and we have not yet recovered.
The Frameworks, and the state standards, the basis for textbook selection, “does not describe the displacement and destruction of Native Americans, Mexican, and Mexican American communities from 1850 to 1930 throughout the Southwest.” [including Sacramento] Campbell, 2006. P. 362.
The treatment in the seventh and eigth grade texts of the history of African Americans under slavery was challenged by scholars. Indeed, the term racism is hardly mentioned in the texts. And, the concept imperialism is something strange that only existed from 1890 until 1914. Such propaganda means that students have a hard time understanding our present policies in Latin America, Iraq, and the Middle east.
Adding to the absurdity, world history basically gets students up through the fall of Communism. According to the texts, little has happened since then. Try that as preparation for life in the real world.
Unfortunately, the California standards and textbooks, and the California State Board of Education and the Curriculum Commission were hijacked by the right wing politicians almost 20 years ago.
The texts present a right wing ideology. They are not balanced, they do not represent a reasonable academic balance, and they are not adequate to preparation for young people in this modern world. Piecemeal amendments won’t really change that.

Dr. Duane E. Campbell
Professor. Social Studies Education.
CSU –Sacramento.
Author: Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. (2004) Merrill, Prentice Hall.
For discussion of democracy and public schools, see
www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com
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