In an analysis of recently published eighth- and 11th-grade social studies textbooks widely used in the megastates of California and Texas, The New York Times found hundreds of differences that ranged from subtle to extensive, Diana Goldstein reports for the Times.
For example, an annotated Bill of Rights is given different treatments in two versions of the same textbook. The California version notes that rulings on the Second Amendment have allowed for some gun regulations, but the same space in the Texas edition contains only a blank space, Goldstein notes. Another textbook discusses the Harlem Renaissance, but the Texas version adds that some critics "dismissed the quality of literature produced."
In general, conservative versions of textbooks tend to celebrate patriotism, the influence of Christianity and the Founding Fathers. More liberal versions seek to help students focus on the experiences of marginalized groups such as women, African Americans and Native Americans, Goldstein reports.
"The differences between state editions can be traced back to several sources: state social studies standards; state laws; and feedback from panels of appointees that huddle, in Sacramento and Austin hotel conference rooms, to review drafts," Goldstein reports. Publishers are eager to please big states since textbook publishers are rapidly losing ground to digital sources, and can only publish a few different versions of a book.
All of this prompts the question: What do your local textbooks look like, and how might state political leanings have influenced their contents?