Educational Research Analysts  November 2002 Newsletter 

  Contents:

Worse than before
Citizens 249 - Education Establishment 0
In 2002, for the first time in 11 years, pub­lish­ers sub­mit­ted high school U.S. History books for Texas approval … and again the education estab­lish­ment missed most factual errors. In 1991, we found 231 un­de­tect­ed factual errors in six high school U.S. History books after the state approval process certified them error-free. When this year's process ended, we found 249 still-un­cor­rec­ted factual errors in four books – more mis­takes over­looked in fewer texts. This despite publish­ers' claims to have beefed up their fact-check­ing, despite Texas Education Agen­cy emphasis on verifying accuracy to the State Textbook Review Panel, and despite an $80,000 Texas Tech review team backing them up.
"… Nixon … became the first American president ever to visit the Soviet Union."
— The American Republic Since 1877 (Glencoe, 2003), p. 837, col. 1, par. 1, lines 6-8

wrong president

Nixon was not the first Amer­ican president to visit the USSR. FDR went to Yalta in 1945. The text itself admits this on p. 655, col. 2, par. 1, lines 1-3.
No one claims we call ideological differences "factual errors." These 249 are all the "2+2=5" type of mistakes that both Jesse Jackson and Jesse Helms would agree are wrong. From pub­lish­ers' lists of editorial changes, it is plain that they often use mostly proof­read­ers, not real academ­icians, to trouble­shoot. Of course they market textbooks on the basis of teach­ing aids, not subject matter content. The Texas Education Commissioner's Report on Correction of Factual Errors combined the findings of the State Textbook Review Panel, and the $80,000 Texas Tech textbook review team. In all the high school U.S. History books, this Report re­com­mend­ed a grand total of four changes. Pitiful. 

Almost certainly the respective 8th Grade com­pan­ion volumes of these four high school U.S. History books contain a like number of undiscov­ered factual errors. In the 100+ total texts in this K-12 Social Studies submis­sion, the factual errors yet outstanding must run into the thou­sands. What if this industry flew our airplanes or made our prescription drugs? Hopefully this is the only time Texas ever adopts textbooks for all Social Studies courses in the same year. Competent review of one upper-level textbook takes 6-8 weeks of quality time. Better to do a little well, than a lot poorly. We should return to staggered adoption of different grade levels of Social Studies books in different years.
"The Dred Scott case was only the second one in American history in which the Supreme Court reversed a federal legislative act."
— The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 162, bottom right margin, "Background"

wrong description

The 1857 Dred Scott decision did not reverse the Missouri Compromise, because the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act had already repealed it.
Our full individual reviews of these four high school U.S. History books are unique in that the same per­son read each text and judged them by the same standard review criteria. This helps evaluate them uniformly and rank them objec­tive­ly. Use our lists of factual errors, missed in the state process, to validate the credi­bility of our reviews. All these textbooks are over 800 pages long, two over 900. Busy class­room teachers cannot possibly read them before adopting one. Nor do even large school districts have enough market leverage alone, to force pub­lish­ers to make corrections. That is why bids to scrap Texas' state textbook approval process, or to restrict citizen input into it, are insanity.


In just four books
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249 overlooked Factual Errors

You would think that after major publishers, a state textbook committee, and an $80,000 Texas Tech review team had "carefully checked" four high school U.S. History books submitted for Texas approval, they would have found most of their factual errors … but you would be wrong.

After Texas' Education Commissioner issued his Report on Correction of Factual Errors, we sent the Texas Education Agency a list of 249 remaining mistakes in those four books, for correction in the final Texas editions. Among the overlooked blunders were:

"1848 The Mexican War ends; U.S. gains Texas, New Mexico, and California."
America: Pathways to the Present – Modern American History (Prentice, 2003), p. 105, time line
wrong result
The U.S. did not gain Texas as result of the Mexican War. Texas was annexed in 1845, before that War began. The text itself admits this on p. 136, par. 2, lines 3-6; and on p. 149, map.
"Relations worsened [in 1945, as the Cold War began] after Stalin learned that the United States had kept its development of the atomic bomb secret."
The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 603, par. 2, lines 16-20
wrong narrative
U.S. development of the atomic bomb was no secret to Stalin. The Venona cables show he knew of it by 1941, and that Soviet spies kept close watch on it thereafter.
"Fifteenth Amendment Constitutional amendment … that guaranteed voting rights to all citizens"
America: Pathways to the Present – Modern American History (Prentice, 2003), p. 980, col. 1
wrong provision
The 15th Amendment did not guarantee suffrage to all citizens. It omitted women, making the 19th Amendment necessary.
"The Fourteenth Amendment … extended the right to vote to all 21-year-old males, including former slaves."
The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 724, lower right, "1868 THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT," par. 2
wrong amendment
The 15th Amendment, not the 14th, gave black males the right to vote. (The 14th Amendment gave states a choice: either let black males vote, or lose congressional representation proportionately.)
"1492 Columbus first reaches North America."
The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 3, time line
wrong itinerary
Columbus never reached North America. He explored Caribbean islands and the northern coast of South America. The text itself admits this on p. 17, map.
"… [U.S. Secretary of State] Seward sent 50,000 American troops … to Mexico to force the French to withdraw their troops from the country."
America: Pathways to the Present – Modern American History (Prentice, 2003), p. 219, "Focus on WORLD EVENTS," lines 19-23
wrong place
Seward did not send U.S. troops to Mexico. He sent them to the U.S. Rio Grande border with Mexico. The text itself admits this on p. 354, par. 2, lines 2-4.
"1754 Politics American colonists adopt the Albany Plan of Union."
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 3, time line
wrong event
The Albany Congress proposed the Albany Plan of Union, but no colony ever ratified it, so it was never adopted.
"After a brief battle [near New Orleans], the British surrendered."
The American Republic Since 1877 (Glencoe, 2003), p. 167, col. 1, par. 1, line 11
wrong outcome
The British did not surrender after the Battle of New Orleans. They withdrew.
"[William H.] Seward had some trouble persuading the House of Representatives to approve the [Alaska Purchase] treaty."
– The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 344, par. 2, lines 3-4
wrong body
The Senate, not the House, approves treaties.
"… English fireships outmaneuvered the Spanish fleet, setting some of their galleons on fire."
The American Republic Since 1877 (Glencoe, 2003), p. 44, "Picturing History," lines 3-4
wrong narrative
English fireships did not set on fire any ships of the Spanish Armada. They did force the Spanish to break their tight formation, making individual ships more attackable.
"James Monroe was the last president to have fought in the Revolutionary War."
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 80, "PRESIDENTIAL Lives - James Monroe," par. 1, lines 1-2
wrong president
Andrew Jackson, not James Monroe, was the last president to have fought in the American Revolution.
"The Northwest Ordinance provided that the territory be divided into areas of 36 square miles."
The American Republic Since 1877 (Glencoe, 2003), p. 104, "Geography Skills," no. 1
wrong ordinance
The Land Ordinance of 1785, not the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, divided the Old Northwest into 36-square mile town-ships. The text itself admits this on p. 104, col. 2, par. 1, lines 1-2.
"The Tenure of Office Act … took away the President's constitutional powers as commander in chief of the armed forces."
America: Pathways to the Present – Modern American History (Prentice, 2003), p. 209, lines 1-4
wrong law
The Command of the Army Act, not the Tenure of Office Act, deprived Andrew Johnson of his powers as commander in chief.
Map of the South in 1862-63 showing Birmingham, Alabama
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 111
wrong decade
Birmingham did not exist in 1862-63. It was founded in 1871.
"Voting rights established by the Articles of Confederation were similarly restricted."
The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 104, par. 1, lines 4-5
wrong description
The Articles of Confederation said nothing about voting rights. Each state wrote its own suffrage law.
"The following year [1818], the two countries agreed to extend the northern border of the United States westward along 49 N latitude from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains."
America: Pathways to the Present - Modern American History (Prentice, 2003), p. 121, par. 4, lines 4-6
wrong lake
This Convention of 1818 set the U.S.-Canadian border from Lake of the Woods to the Rockies, not from Lake Superior to the Rockies. The 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty established the boundary between Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods.
"After the [Revolutionary] war, the nation faced serious financial problems. Congress desperately needed cash to pay its war debts. …
"Congress responded by printing paper money. The financial consequences proved disastrous. These bills of credit, called Continentals, were not backed by gold or silver. Thus, merchants and lenders refused to accept them at face value."
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 30, par. 2-3
wrong chronology
The Second Continental Congress printed paper money during the Revolutionary War, not after it. By 1781 (before the war ended) its Continental bills were already trash. Shays' Rebellion (1786-87) protested deflation, not inflation.
"Economic troubles during the 1930s contributed to the rise of dictatorships in Germany, Italy, and Japan."
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 558, bottom, "Build on What You Know," lines 1-2
wrong chronology
Economic troubles in the 1930s had nothing to do with the rise of Mussolini, who came to power in Italy in 1922.
"Before the [Civil] war, greenbacks were redeemable for either gold or silver coins."
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 262, par. 3, line 1
wrong chronology
There were no greenbacks before the Civil War. They originated in the 1862 Legal Tender Act, during the Civil War.
"The Judiciary Act of 1789 provided for a Supreme Court …."

"Judiciary Act of 1789 a law that established … the Supreme Court …."

The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal, 2003), p. 74, par. 5, lines 2-3; and p. R59, col. 2
wrong provision
The 1789 Judiciary Act did not "provide for" or "establish" the Supreme Court. Article 3, Section 1 of the Constitution did that. The text itself admits this on p. 93, top right margin, "More About … Federal Courts," lines 1-2. The Act did set the number of associate Supreme Court justices at 5.
"In 1688 the English Parliament removed King James II from the throne."
The American Republic Since 1877 (Glencoe, 2003), p. 740, col. 2, par. 1, lines 1-2
wrong narrative
Parliament did not remove James II. It declared the throne vacant, after James abdicated by fleeing the country.
"In 1940 the Japanese army occupied all of French Indochina, the Philippines, Malaya, and Indonesia."
American Nation in the Modern Era (Holt, 2003), p. 707, par. 2, lines 3-4
wrong chronology
The Japanese did not occupy any of the Philippines, Malaya, or Indonesia in 1940. They did not invade the Philippines and Malaya until December 1941, and Indonesia not until January 1942. The text itself indicates (p. 522, map) that Japan did not control the Philippines or Malaya on December 7, 1941.
"Early in Grant's second term, a scandal emerged involving the Credit Mobilier Company."
America: Pathways to the Present - Modern American History (Prentice, 2003), p. 216, par. 3, lines 1-2
wrong chronology
The Credit Mobilier scandal emerged late in Grant's first term, not early in his second. The text itself admits this on p. 291, par. 7, lines 3-4. The New York press broke the story on September 4, 1872. The House censured Oakes Ames and James Brooks on February 27, 1873. Grant's second term began on March 4, 1873.


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2003 high school US History textbook ratings

Texas has approved these high school U.S. History books for 2003 local adoption, which we rank as follows:

Better

The American Republic Since 1877  • Glencoe ©2003

Overall superior scholarship to previous generations of high school U.S. History books seen in Texas in the last 40 years:

  • More positive view of multicultural consensus and unity; less negative politically-correct emphasis on race conflict and ethnic alienation
  • Exceptional inclusion of Jeffersonian-Jacksonian limited government perspectives on U.S. Constitutional issues
  • Exemplary presentation of recent interpretations of industrialization, big business, and demand-side and supply-side economics

Fair

America: Pathways to the Present – Modern American History  • Prentice ©2003

Poor

The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century  • McDougal ©2003

Worst

American Nation in the Modern Era  • Holt ©2003

Disproportionate, agenda-driven stress on anti-social history over political and economic themes:

  • Divisive, inflammatory, unprofessional stereotypes of whites as oppressors and people of color as victims, polarizing multicultural populations
  • Fragmentary coverage, incoherent explanations, low prioritization of key terms, issues, and concepts in U.S. Constitutional history
  • Dubious grasp of some topics in U.S. economic history; definite disinterest in questioning old left anti-capitalist, pro-big government prejudices
This text contained the most remaining uncorrected factual errors of these four books. Let us e-mail you that list.

Our reviewer served on the Texas State Board of Education-appointed Social Studies Review Committee during the 1996 Social Studies curriculum writing process. His analyses evaluate these books' subject-matter content. They supplement Texas' State Textbook Review Panel, which checked conformity to course standards; and balance publishers' sales pitches, which stress teaching aids. We can e-mail you our list of these four books' 249 total factual errors missed by publishers, by an $80,000 Texas Tech review team hired by the Texas Education Agency, and by the Texas Education Commissioner's Report on Corrections of Factual Errors.

No public school publisher funded our reviews in any way. We have no financial stake in any textbook company. Unlike publisher sales reps, we have no monetary interest in any textbook adoption outcome. Our support comes from concerned individuals and a few small foundations, which to our knowledge have no ties to the public school textbook industry. We are the Texas group noted by the Wall Street Journal and ABC's Good Morning America for finding hundreds of high school U.S. History textbook factual errors in 1991-92; and by ABC's 20/20 in 1999 for finding hundreds of high school World History textbook factual errors.