Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks, by Paul C. Vitz (Servant, 1986, 154 pp.; $6.95, paper). Reviewed by Charles Glenn, director of equal educational opportunity, Massachusetts Department of Education.
Educators have had great difficulty hearing the concern of parents about their children’s schools’ treatment of religion and values (see my article “Why Public Schools Don’t Listen” [CT, Sept. 20, 1985]). After all, they go to great lengths to assure fairness and to avoid controversial material, such as religion, not realizing that to avoid something gives some students the message that it is unimportant.
Public educators have needed an objective (though not dispassionate) study of the missing elements in our presentation of American life and history, as the basis for developing a curriculum that does justice to the convictions of millions of parents. In Censorship, New York University psychology professor Paul Vitz has given us such a study, employing all of the methodologies and cross checks of social science research. His study is one that does not depend upon assumptions and ways of thinking unfamiliar to most public educators, and thus it can, without awkwardness, serve as the basis for public policy discussions.
Textbook case: When Vicki Frost sued the Hawkins County (Tenn.) school board demanding religiously acceptable readers, author/educator Vitz testified as an expert witness to reinforce parents’ claims.
Just the Facts
“In social studies texts for grades 1 to 4] twenty-five of the forty books have no reference in either word or image to American religious activity in any form: of the fifteen books that have a primary religious reference, ...1
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