Educational Research Analysts  July 2000 Newsletter 
The Golden Age of Textbook Reform Is Just Ahead
And we will make the most of it, with God's help

Publishers are learning to heed our text­book re­views be­cause their sales often match our rank­ings. This year, the two Grade 5 Science pro­grams that we rank­ed "better" took 69% Texas market share, and one of those out­sold the two we cal­led "poor" by two to one. Our analy­ses noted that Texas does not re­quire these series to discuss evo­lu­tion … but that it does say they must ex­plain scien­tific strengths and weak­nes­ses of what­ever scien­tif­ic theories they in­clude. These two "better" series may be the best pub­lic school Science text­books ever on scien­tific theories.

Text­book sales repeat­edly show that rank-and-file edu­cators, who actual­ly adopt textbooks, are much less poli­ti­cal­ly correct than the non-repre­sen­ta­tive focus groups as­sembled by pro­fes­sional organ­iza­tions to tell pub­lish­ers "what teachers want." When main­stream class­room teachers see the aca­demic­al­ly sound, intel­lect­ually respect­able docu­men­ta­tion for our rank­ings, they as a whole almost always opt for the more moderate ma­terials. Our lists of obvious fac­tual errors give pause to those still skeptic­al of our find­ings on sub­stan­tive subject-matter content.

For instance: The Texas Council for the Social Stud­ies (TCSS) poses as the mouthpiece of Texas Social Studies teachers. Accord­ing to a former presi­dent in 1996, TCSS has about 3000 members. But the Texas Educa­tion Agency data­base showed there were 16,918 Grades 7-12 Social Studies teachers in Texas public schools. TCSS member­ship is thus under 18% of this total – and much less even than that if you count ele­ment­ary Social Studies teachers. We empower the vast silent majority of edu­cators who are voiceless except at textbook-adoption time.

Why are pub­lish­ers now more open to text­book reform, the media friend­lier, and foes quiet­er, than ever before? Because we have learned that if you define the terms of debate you are half­way to winning; that text­book editors may be un­aware of our side and we must logical­ly explain it; that stan­dard review criteria let you talk with people instead of at them; that know­ing others' mindset may make pos­sible reason­ing from their assump­tions to your conclu­sions; and that if you force liberals to tell both sides on ob­ject­ion­able issues, they will often drop the subject.

Our standard review criteria on the next page show­case these insights. Another example is to omit evi­dence for intel­li­gent design or a young earth when attack­ing the mandated teach­ing of evolu­tion in text­books. This accepts (for debate's sake) the myth that evol­u­tion is scientific and crea­tion is religious. But citing only non-theistic, non-creation re­lated, natur­al­istic weak­nes­ses in evo­lu­tion puts you on a risk-free of­fen­sive. It lets you attack evo­lu­tion­ists without their attack­ing crea­tion. You need not men­tion crea­tion to prove it; you just have to dis­credit evo­lution.

Pub­lish­ers have always com­pet­ed on the basis of text­book teach­ing aids. Now some are also compet­ing on the basis of sub­ject matter content. This profound shift in the industry should ac­celerate as de­fectors from the old liberal monopoly on inter­pret­ing text­book rules reap high­er profits. And in con­trast to the outcry against other states’ dis­claim­ers on evo­lu­tion in the front of Science books, oppon­ents’ silence over these Texas devel­op­ments means they know they are con­sti­tu­tion­al. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we will make them ir­resist­ible.

You need our
Standard Review Criteria
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When judging textbooks, well thought-out objections put you on the attack and foes on the defensive. Our standard review criteria give you this edge. They also help rank textbooks fairly.

Below are sample standard review criteria. These are not com­pre­hen­sive course outlines, but lists of what textbooks often censor on major topics. You cannot beat something with nothing.

U.S. History

"States’ rights" under the Constitution differed from "state sovereignty" over the Constitution.

  • "States’ rights" accepted the constitutional principle of divided sovereignty. It strictly interpreted enumerated powers and the elastic clause. Examples of its exercise were:
    • Maryland’s attempt to tax the 2nd Bank of the U.S.
      Since the Bank was not absolutely necessary to the carrying out of dele­gated federal powers, but only convenient, Jef­fer­son­ians said it was uncon­sti­tu­tional.
    • Established state churches
      In Barron v. Baltimore (1833), the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights limits the federal government, not the states. Thus despite the First Amendment, Con­nec­ti­cut had an esta­blished church until 1818, and Massachusetts until 1833.
  • "State sovereignty" rejected the constitutional principle of divided sovereignty. Instances of its expression included:
    • Nullification
      Georgia ignored a Supreme Court ruling against its authority over Cherokee lands. South Carolina’s bid to stop collection of tariffs in Charleston brought an ultimatum from strict-constructionist, states’-rights nationalist Andrew Jackson.
    • Secession
      Secession was a question of where sovereignty ulti­mately lay. If a state could secede, it was so­ver­eign; if it could not, the federal government was so­ver­eign. The Constitution was silent on the right to secede because it di­vid­ed sovereignty.

U.S. Government

Discuss strict and loose construction equally.

  • Give both interpretations of the "necessary and proper" and the "general welfare" clauses. Note that both views believe in implied powers, but construe them differently.
  • Explain the difference between strict and loose construction of judicial review. Strict con­struc­tion­ists believe the judiciary should de­te­rmine only whe­ther the exec­utive or legis­lature has a power under the Con­sti­tu­tion. Loose con­struc­tion­ists believe the courts should also decide if these other branches have properly exercised their powers.


Benefits of free enterprise include:

  • Private property
    • counts private property as a human right
    • makes individuals and families independent
    • fosters efficient allocation of resources and their payments
  • Growing net wealth
    • dispels the zero-sum notion of wealth that some must grow poorer if others grow richer
    • creates a larger economic pie instead of transferring claims to an existing one
    • expands all classes' purchasing power
  • Market price mechanism
    • adjusts supply and demand automatically
    • avoids shortages and surpluses
    • equalizes production and consumption
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more sample standard review criteria

American Literature

Story content should present:

  • A universe that rewards virtue and punishes vice, where good and evil are not moral equivalents, and where problems have solutions

  • Behavioral role models that demonstrate civility, sensitivity, humaneness, and non-destructiveness

  • Generally positive attitudes toward, and relations among, children, parents, and others

  • Sensitive treatment of benefits to children of strong, stable, two-parent families

  • Equal stress on Europe’s literary, religious, and cultural heritage compared to other regions

  • Equal criticism of white and non-white cultures, and of Christian and non-Christian civilizations

  • As much note of intra-group conflict as of inter-group strife

  • Proportional representative selections from pre-1900 eras and genres, for a sense of literary history

  • Diverse views on current controversial issues, when raised (e.g., "global warming," feminism, naturalistic origins myths like evolution)

  • Standard spelling, correct grammar, and grade-level appropriate English vocabulary

  • No sensational violence, offensive language or illustrations, occultism, or deviant lifestyles (e.g., homosexuality)

  • No pattern of pejoratives stigmatizing one group and superlatives idealizing another

  • No politically-correct stereotypes of oppressors and/or victims by race, class, or gender

Allocate space based on how much contemporaries esteemed authors’ works, as well as on modern editors’ and critics’ opinions (e.g., 9 pages from Olaudah Equiano but nothing from The Federalist, or 8 pages of Emily Dickinson with half a page of Longfellow, is intellectually indefensible political correctness).

Present contrasting primary-source views on major literary movements and individuals (e.g., Hawthorne on transcendent­alism; Emerson and J. R. Lowell on Thoreau).


Anthologize substantive selections from these pre-Civil War figures/sources, so that the mid-point of the course is no later than 1865:

John Smith Thomas Jefferson
William Bradford The Federalist
John Winthrop Philip Freneau
Edward Taylor Washington Irving
Cotton Mather James Fenimore Cooper
Samuel Sewall William Cullen Bryant
Mary Rowlandson Henry W. Longfellow
William Byrd John Greenleaf Whittier
Jonathan Edwards Oliver Wendell Holmes
Benjamin Franklin James Russell Lowell
Thomas Paine

World History

Prevent stereotypes of whites-as-oppressors and people-of-color-as-victims from slanting discussions of Western imperialism by noting that:

  • Some sub-Saharan African peoples practiced human sacrifice (e.g., Ashanti, Dahomey). The Aztecs and some other New World Indians engaged in cannibalism as well as human sacrifice.

  • In the Columbian exchange, infection was a two-way street. A very lethal strain of syphilis, probably from America, killed many Europeans in the early 1500s.

  • Only the Christian West realized slavery was wrong and took the lead in abolishing it.

  • Manchu China was as culturally arrogant as the West. Chinese emperors viewed all foreign traders as barbarian bearers of tribute to whom they wished only to sell, not to buy, demanding payment in silver.

  • The West demanded "extraterritoriality" because Chinese justice assumed guilt until proven innocent, used torture to extract confessions, and held whole groups responsible for acts of single members.

  • British rule brought peace and a common language (English) to deeply divided India, ended or opposed suttee, infanticide, and child marriage there, improved Indian health, education, and transportation systems, and merely added another caste to the existing system.
 We have many more standard review criteria on most of these subjects.