Censorship » Liberal and Special Interest Groups » The effect of the guidelines on secular textbooks

Censored to Death

The censorship of these various interest groups impacts textbooks in all disciplines. John Hubisz, reporting the results of an analysis of middle school science textbooks conducted by the American Association of Physics Teachers, concludes that “political correctness is often more important than scientific accuracy: Middle-school text publishers now employ more people to censor books for content that might offend any organized lobbying group than they do to check facts.”1

Math textbooks also suffer from censorship. Diane Ravitch reports that “mathematics is being nudged into a specifically political direction by educators who call themselves ‘critical theorists.’ They advocate using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice,” clearly “an explicitly political agenda” for the classroom.2

But it is undoubtedly the literature and history textbooks that earn the closest evaluation by political activists. For example, literary selections chosen must reflect racial balance as reflected by Census Bureau statistics. According to Houghton Mifflin’s guidelines, “a reading book with twenty-two selections would include three pieces by African American writers, three by Latinos, two by Asian Americans, one by a Native American, and one by a writer with a physical disability.”3 Furthermore, Ravitch explains, “most classic literature [in fact, anything written before 1970] is unacceptable when judged by the new rules governing references to gender, ethnicity, age, and disability.”4

The censorship issue has gone public in recent years with many parents and educators objecting to the erosion of quality in mainstream textbooks.

1 John Hubitz, “Middle-School Texts Don't Make the Grade,” Physics Today, Vol. LVI, No. 5 (May 2003), p. 53.
2 Diane Ravitch, “Ethnomathematics,The Wall Street Journal (June 20, 2005), p. A14.
3 Ravitch, The Language Police, p. 46.
4 Ravitch, The Language Police, p. 25.