November 19, 2014
During the public testimony on November 18th “factual errors” in 6th grade social studies textbooks were brought to our attention by retired Lt. Colonel Roy White, Chairman of the Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT), and the TTT Coalition volunteers. Colonel White and these volunteers have expended thousands of hours on conference calls, reading training newsletters, going through “mock reviews” and finally conducting the actual reviews on the textbooks. The goal is to have as many social studies textbook reviews posted in one place that will give parents, teachers and Board of Education members a single source to find these reviews to insure the publishers are held accountable for producing factual and honest social studies textbooks. This will be an ongoing process handled by volunteers.
Following their testimony I continued the dialogue with the board members and encouraged the corrections. I am sharing with you how important the process is in reviewing our textbooks. We merely want to have the most factual and intelligently honest textbooks possible for our children.
Below is the letter written by the publisher National Geographic Learning, Cengage Learning, Marcie Goodale, regarding the “factual errors.”
Dear Chairwoman Cargill:
Thank you very much for the opportunity to address comments made during the November 18th State Board of Education meeting regarding Proclamation 2015 instructional resources, specifically regarding Cengage Learning’s World Cultures and Geography for grade 6.
Two comments were made yesterday regarding “factual errors” in Cengage Learning’s World Cultures and Geography textbook for 6th grade which we would like to address. One had to do with the text’s description of the United States as a democracy. The second was a suggestion that Jesus be identified as Jesus Christ in a Christian context.
In response to the first comment, on page 65 there is a sentence that reads, “The United States was the first modern country to establish a representative democracy.” The Truth in Textbooks group said that the United States is a “constitutional republic.” We had suggested the following edit: “The United States was the first modern country to establish a federal republic. The government is often referred to as a representative democracy.” In response to yesterday’s comment, we will delete the second sentence and use the term “constitutional” instead of federal.
In response to the second comment, on page R52 in the World Religions Handbook, the first sentence under “Historical Origins” reads: “Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also called Jesus Christ by Christians.” This is nearly verbatim to the language requested by the speaker in the meeting today. In addition on page 60 in the text, Jesus is referred to as Jesus Christ in the description of Christianity.
A second area of concern was the question of Common Core State Standards and the role of these standards within this sixth grade social studies program. Cengage Learning wishes to reassure the State Board of Education and the TEA that nowhere within World Cultures and Geography is instruction regarding Common Core State Standards mentioned, encouraged, or promoted. World Cultures and Geography for Texas focuses solely on the TEKS and ELPS to which the program aligns 100%. The program is infused with TEKS projects and TEKS assessment.
We appreciate the opportunity to address a third area of concern and that is the link to external websites from myNGconnect.com for Texas, the program’s instructional portal. Cengage Learning commits to removing any links to external websites, such as National Geographic, no later than Thursday, November 20. National Geographic Learning is wholly owned by Cengage Learning; while there are resources within World Cultures and Geography from National Geographic, the instruction and pedagogy has been developed independently of the National Geographic Society. In no way does National Geographic Learning | Cengage Learning influence the content selected for the National Geographic website. All web links to National Geographic will be permanently discontinued.
It is our sincere intent to participate in Proclamation 2015 to be part of the education of grade 6 students in Texas. We believe our curriculum conforms to the high standards of the Texas State Board of Education and the citizens of the state of Texas.
We respectfully present this information for your consideration, and appreciate the opportunity.
Publisher, Social Studies
Sales Manager – Southwest
National Geographic Learning
SBOE, District 12