published on or around the 15th of the month

from the author of
November, 2006  volume 1- Issue 3
Welcome to Java House - radical opinions about whatever from, OldSage

Writer's Name: OldSage
Everything in particular, and nothing in general.

There are a few rules I live by:

Good judgment comes from the experiences gained when exercising bad judgment.
The biggest trouble-maker you will ever to deal with watches you brush your hair in the mirror every morning.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Here's who I am:

I believe that today's public school system is failing for the most part, though I continue to support it through taxes and buying magazine subscriptions from 8 year olds.

I believe that you can be whatever you want to be.

I firmly believe that you can gain an incredible education by studying at home.

Dumbing Down American Students: Really Bad Textbooks
Have you ever looked at your kid's school books? I mean really looked at them? Read them critically? Many texts, I am confidnet you will find are insulting to intelligence, at any grade level, at any intelligence level. Here's why:

American textbooks are filled with errors and they are censored.

And we have known this for years.

Middle-School Texts Don't Make the Grade
Thousands of teachers are saddled with error-filled physical science textbooks that fail to present what science is all about.Physicists deserve some of the blame.
by John Hubisz, May 2003

Our study, available on the World Wide Web [here], determined that, according to the criteria we set forth, none of the 12 most popular middle-school physical science texts was acceptable.

The committee was particularly concerned with scientific accuracy, and with good reason. Mass and weight were often confused. The speed of light was first timed in 1926, according to one text. Isaac Newton's first law was often incorrectly stated, and although the third law was correctly stated, the examples illustrating it were wrong...[read on ]

Errant Texts
Why some schools may not want to go by the book
By Janet Raloff, 2001

Many school administrators and especially scientists are coming to the conclusion that one major problem resides in the textbooks U.S. middle schoolers use. The science texts in most of their classrooms are nothing short of an embarrassment, according to several recent studies....

The best-trained teachers may be able to guide students around such problems...In fact, the latest TIMSS follow-up suggests that many U.S. math and science teachers might not be up to the job. The study found that teachers in the United States are less likely than their international counterparts to have made science or math a "main area of study" in college.... Teachers who didn't major in science tend to "use textbooks—lean on them—more than better-qualified teachers do," notes Arthur Eisenkraft, president of the National Science Teachers Association and the science coordinator for public schools in Bedford, N.Y...
What most disturbs Hubisz and many others contacted for this story, is that schools aren't more irate—and publishers more embarrassed—about the quality of so many children's textbooks... [Read on ]

A textbook case of failure
Politically driven adoption system yields shallow, misleading material.
By Alex Johnson, MSNBC, May 16, 2006

President Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative put almost every imaginable part of the U.S. education system under a microscope, establishing national standards for teacher training, student testing and basic funding. But glaring in its omission from the program is any significant examination of that most basic of classroom tools, the textbook.

“This is where people miss the boat. They don’t realize how important the textbooks are,” Wang said. “We talk about vouchers and more teachers, but education is about the books. That’s where the content is.”

Textbooks have become so bland and watered-down that they are “a scandal and an outrage,” the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit education think tank in Washington, charged in a scathing report issued a year and a half ago...[read on ]

Are you interested in reading your kids textbooks now?

Dumbing Down American Students: Really Bad Textbooks (cont'd)

The errors in textbooks are bad enough, but textbooks really get bad when you begin to add the politically correct, morally just censorship many groups who influence the school systems insist on. Imagine what it must be like to have to deal with textbooks like this everyday.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
.Censorship is basically the editing, removing, or otherwise changing speech and other forms of human expression. In some cases, it is exercised by governing bodies but it is always and continuously carried out by the mass media. The visible motive of censorship is often to stabilize, improve or persuade the society group that the censoring organization would have control over. It is most commonly applied to acts that occur in public circumstances, and most formally involves the suppression of ideas by criminalizing or regulating expression.

School textbooks
The content of school textbooks is often the issue of debate, since their target audience is young people, and the term "whitewashing" is the one commonly used to refer to selective removal of critical or damaging evidence or comment.[read on ]

The History of Book Publishing - Censorship to Consolidation
from CyberCollege

Question: What do these books have in common?

  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • Harry Potter...
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • Tropic of Cancer
  • Diary of a Young Girl
    (Anne Frank)
  • Snow White
  • The Color Purple
  • Tarzan (All Books)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Leaves of Grass
    (Walt Whitman)

Answer: These books, along with and scores of others, have been censored in the United States.

In case you're wondering why, let's just consider the first one. Little Red Riding Hood has been censored because original versions included "wine" as a gift to grandma.

Textbook orders represent millions of dollars in sales for book publishers. Consequently, publishers are very sensitive to what consumers (primarily school boards) want and don't want.

Some groups — again primarily conservative religious and political groups — have made major efforts to get control of school boards so that they can eliminate readings that are not consistent with their own views.

After feedback from school boards, publishers sometimes "suggest" to their authors that sections of their manuscripts be added, deleted, or altered. This has been a particular issue with history, social studies, and biology textbooks. Theories of creation and sexual information have been major issues.

Texas has been especially active in this regard. Conservative groups that have taken over many textbook selection committees often object to passages in texts. In 2002, one textbook was rejected because it revealed that during the time Texas was being settled, the state had 50,000 prostitutes....[read on ]

Censorship in the Classroom
from YouthNoise 2003

The key to the success of a democracy is a well-educated electorate. This fact makes what students learn, and the quality of their education one of the most important issues facing our country today. What exactly though is being used to teach the future of our country? In many classrooms textbooks provide the core information students will learn. The startling truth about this main and often only source of information is that they are frequently sanitized and politicized, sacrificing fact in the process. What is presented as fact is often fiction. Other books are banned completely, or edited beyond recognition. Censorship has quietly wormed its way into American schools, and is eating away at what is being taught to students. It takes many forms, from self-censorship to the institutionalized censorship found in textbooks....

More Excerpts:
Who decides what goes into textbooks? Texas, California, and the Gablers Pressure groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum have an extreme amount of influence in deciding what goes into textbooks....

Ever since the 1960's, any textbook company wanting to successfully publish a book in Texas has to meet the requirements of Mel and Norma Gabler. The Gablers reviewed textbooks looking for any shred of anti-Christian, anti-family, leftist, or anti-American content. Because of their ability to arouse public support and outrage, textbook companies often complied with their demands to prevent any confrontation. Criticism of tradition or the nation, violence, indecency", alienation, death, "humanism", "one-worldism", and "women's lib" are among the topics they found unfit...[read on ]

The Gablers Mission Statement:

We are a conservative Christian organization that reviews public school textbooks submitted for adoption in Texas. Our reviews have national relevance because Texas state-adopts textbooks and buys so many that publishers write them to Texas standards and sell them across the country.

Our unique 45 years' experience gives us expertise equal to or beyond that of the education establishment itself in all phases of the public school textbook adoption process, and in that our standard review criteria spell out what public school textbooks often censor on certain topics.

Publishers market textbooks — and many teachers select them — based on convenience of their teaching aids. Unlike them, we review textbooks for academic content only. Parents, teachers, and school board members can all profitably use our materials.

Subject areas of concern include:

  • Scientific weaknesses in evolutionary theories
  • Phonics-based reading instruction
  • Principles and benefits of free enterprise
  • Original intent of the U.S. Constitution
  • Respect for Judeo-Christian morals
  • Emphasis on abstinence in sex education
  • Politically-correct degradation of academics

Their book reviews are here:

It was shocking to me that one family had so much control over textbook content in Texas. It's really shocking to me that No Child Left Behind has nothing in it about the quality or accuracy textbooks or textbook reviews with one of the biggest supporters of it being from Texas. I was concerned that even today this kind of censorship still exists there and dug further into Texas textbook review and found this:

Don't Mess With Textbooks - Texas
NOTE: As of IMPORTANT NEWS! September 18, 2006 - The Texas Attorney General Has Written an Opinion That Refuses to Return the State Board's Pre-1995 Authority Over Specific Textbook Content
The new Opinion is a major victory for Texas citizens and the Texas economy, since students--future knowledge workers--will continue to use high-quality textbooks free of political and religious censorship...[read on] (from Texas Citizens for Science)

Note the date. I wonder how bad the textbooks have been up to this date....

I also wondered what the high school dropput rate was in Texas and began to research that idea and found a similar result in manysources. So I am concluding:

Texas high school graduation rate is lower than the National Average.

This from a San Antonio paper:

Texas behind others in grads
Web Posted: 06/21/2006 , Karen Adler, Express-News Staff Writer

From the article:

  • For the 2002-03 school year, Texas had a graduation rate of 66.8 percent, compared with the national average of 69.6 percent, according to the report "Diplomas Count: An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates."
  • Texas' high school graduation rate is below the national average and vastly lower than the Texas Education Agency has reported
  • Of 50 states and the District of Columbia, Texas ranked 35th in graduation rates, according to the study.
  • Hispanic students in Texas have a 57.8 percent graduation rate, compared with the national average of 55.6 percent. And black students have a 59.9 percent rate, compared with the national average of 51.6 percent.

You could take the idea of errors and especially censorship in textbooks one step further in that if all of the ideas that actually might make a student think are removed, you lose the interest of the student and they potentially become a dropout, or worse, disinterested in learning all together.

So. Are you interested in reading your kids textbooks yet?

The good news is that as a parent there are resources you can turn to to take an informed and intelligent look at the textbooks your kids are reading:

The Web site of The Textbook League is a resource for middle-school and high-school educators. It provides commentaries on some 200 items, including textbooks, curriculum manuals, videos and reference books. Most of the commentaries appeared originally in the League's bulletin, The Textbook Letter.

A list of schoolbooks that spread religious propaganda: Religious preaching makes these books unfit for use in public schools
by William J. Bennetta

A Consumer's Guide to High School History Textbooks
by Diane Ravitch, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 02/26/2004
A Consumer's Guide to High School History Textbooks is a summary review of 12 widely used U.S. and world history textbooks.

Review of 12 Middle School Physical Science Texts
by John L. Hubisz, Ph.D , for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
The purpose of this grant was to review and critique the physical science in Middle School grades 6, 7, 8, and 9 science textbooks with regard to the scientific accuracy, adherence to an accurate portrayal of the scientific approach, and the appropriateness and pedagogic effectiveness of the material presented for the particular grade level.

What can you do if you find a textbook that isn't good enough?

The one thing homeschoolers have found out is that as parents we have the right to demand stellar education and we take that matter into our own hands by homeschooling. Once you take that plunge you realize that the myth of the almighty school system having all the power over your kids is gone. You win your rights back as a parent. If your kids are in a school, though it might be an uphill battle, you can get a textbook selection changed. You are the parent, you are responsible for what your kid is learning in school. If the book is bad, demand a better one. It will take a bit of perseverance on your part, but it can be done if you want it to be...

and remember to remind the school system that homeschooling is always an option....

The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch

From Publishers Weekly Looking at lawsuits, school board hearings and private correspondence between textbook editors, Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University, shows how publishers are squeezed by pressure from groups on the right (which object to depictions of disobedience, family conflict, sexuality, evolution and the supernatural) and the left (which correct for the racism and sexism of older textbooks by urging stringent controls on language and images to weed out possibly offensive stereotypes)-most publishers have quietly adopted both sets of suggestions.

What Johnny Shouldn`t Read: Textbook Censorship in America by Joan DelFattor

From Publishers Weekly
Wielding an influence far out of proportion to their numbers, according to the author, well-funded ultraconservative activists have used federal lawsuits and intimidation in an attempt to censor textbooks and to color elementary and secondary school education with their views on everything from minorities to nontraditional sex roles, gun control, evolution, holistic health, anti-pollution laws and religious tolerance. DelFattore argues that these fundamentalists target not only multiculturalism, globalism and environmentalism but also the right of students to think for themselves.

Censored Books by Lee Burress, Nicholas J. Karolides , John M. Kean

Book Description
This collection of sixty-three essays provides assistance to the growing number of students, teachers, librarians, and parents who find themselves confronting a censorship situation. The contributors are both authors--of fiction, drama, and poetry for adults, children, and adolescents--and teachers of literature, writing about the books that are most frequently challenged in schools and libraries. Part I provides six authors' perspectives on censorship by omission and commission. Part II provides responses and defenses of individual books. Arranged alphabetically by the title of the text, and others to teaching concerns. The array is enlightening.

Censored Books II: Critical Viewpoints, by Nicholas J. Karolides

Book Description
Beautifully reasoned arguments support the teaching of books that are frequently challenged by would-be censors. Author Karolides has chosen a wide range of literature, from the contemporary bestselling Harry Potter books to Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Some books are challenged in the name of political correctness; others because of concern over violent or sexual content. The rationales, written by authors themselves, librarians, and teachers, examine the value of each work as literature, its content relative to societal values, and the always thorny issue of what material actually constitutes "suitable" reading for young people. For librarians, teachers, and parents-and anyone concerned with young people and intellectual freedom.

The Privilege of Education...

You work hard, get good grades, do community service, participate in extra-curricular, score perfectly on t he SAT and can't get into Harvard. Why not? Daddy doesn't make enough money or have enough clout.

"Christopher Ovitz applied to Brown University, but "was not even in the range of the normal stretch that Brown would make for children of the wealthy and powerful." But he was granted a place at Brown. Although Christopher Ovitz lasted only a year, according to Golden, Brown has reaped the ongoing rewards from Ovitz and his extensive Hollywood contacts.Christopher Ovitz is the son of former Hollywood agent and president of Walt Disney, Michael Ovitz."


The Privilege of Education
By MARTIN BASHIR, Nov. 2, 2006
Harvard. Yale. Princeton. How Much Does a Name-Brand Education Amount To?
Jian Li was the perfect student. Incredibly, he got a perfect score on his SATs....He applied to Harvard, Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford, among other places and didn't get into any of those colleges....
Yet, he soon became aware that other high school students with lower SAT scores had sailed past him. [read on]

The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges -- and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates by Daniel Golden

The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
by Jerome Karabel

What Colleges Don't Tell You (And Other Parents Don't Want You to Know): 272 Secrets for Getting Your Kid into the Top Schools
by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross

The New Rules of College Admissions: Ten Former Admissions Officers Reveal What it Takes to Get Into College Today (Fireside Books (Fireside))
by Michael London and Stephen Kramer


See you next Month -- OldSage


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Updated: November 18, 2006