The Textbook Trap » Errors in history books

D-Day for History Texts

In a 2005 evaluation of two 8th grade U.S. History books used in Texas schools, Educational Research Analysts (a conservative Christian organization that reviews public school textbooks) found 103 factual errors. In their 2006 evaluation of five 8th grade U.S. History books approved for California middle schools, they found 427 factual errors.1

Possibly even more troubling than the persistent errors is the value of the books’ content and presentation. In 2003, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute examined six widely used high school U.S. history texts and six world history texts. They concluded that “the books reviewed in this report range from serviceable to abysmal. None is distinguished or even very good…. No textbook scored better than 78 percent overall…. Five of the twelve earned failing marks.”2

And, apparently, there’s been little improvement in succeeding years. According to Gilbert Sewall, president of the American Textbook Council, “although publishers have developed new world and U.S. history textbooks at three different grade levels since 2003, they did not use the intervening five years to correct factual information or right the imbalances. They have allowed the errors to remain.”3

Investigate further criticisms of history textbooks
2 Chester E. Finn, Jr., “Foreword.” A Consumer’s Guide to High School History Textbooks (Feb. 26, 2004), p. 8
3 Gilbert T. Sewall, “Islam in the Classroom: What the Textbooks Tell Us: Part One of Five.Family Security Matters (May 12, 2008).