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                      CALIFORNIA CONFESSES IT IGNORES
                         ACCURACY IN REVIEWING TEXTBOOKS FOR ADOPTION
 


            California virtually ignores factual accuracy in reviewing textbooks for the millions of schoolchildren in the state. 

            A California statute calls for factual accuracy as a goal, but no regulations have ever been adopted by the state Board of Education, and no job descriptions at the Department of Education include factual accuracy specifically.    Read the letters from the Department of Education.

            Studies have found hundreds of errors in California textbooks.  One survey of a science textbook series found 500 pages of errors, including the labeling of a photo of singer Linda Ronstadt as a silicon crystal and the equator passing through the southern part of the United States.  Nevertheless the publisher Prentice Hall was not required to correct any of the errors in any of the existing textbooks or in future editions.  The study was sponsored by the Lucille and David Packard Foundation and conducted by Professor John Hubisz of North Carolina State University.  See the news article.

             California Education code section 60200(c)(3) says that instructional materials shall be reviewed so they “Are factually accurate and incorporate principles of instruction reflective of current and confirmed research.”  Section 60045(a) extends the concept to local school districts, “All instructional materials adopted by any governing board for use in the schools shall be, to the satisfaction of the governing board, accurate, objective, and current and suited to the needs and comprehension of pupils at their respective levels.”

             Simi Valley (California) Unified School District has actively started reviewing textbooks for factual accuracy under the leadership of Board President Janice DiFatta and Superintendent Kathryn Scroggin.  It is soliciting errors from teachers, students, staff, and the general public, following up with publishers, and instructing its textbook reviewers to search out errors.  See the Superintendent letter.

             The California state Board of Education in March did actually order a publisher to correct one factual error, but it was the result of a massive lobbying campaign by the Sikh community, not as the result of any education department review.  The textbook “An Age of Voyages:  1350-1600” by the Oxford University Press showed the Sikh founder Guru Nanak wearing a crown rather than the typical turban.  See the news article.

             California's adoption of textbooks has nationwide significance, inasmuch as other states follow California's example on the presumption that superior quality control has been exercised in reviewing the textbooks.