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Posted at 5:33 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Arlington pulls error-prone textbook

By Kevin Sieff

Arlington school officials decided Wednesday to pull a textbook in which historians have found dozens of errors.

"Based upon the recent information about the number and scope of errors identified in the Grade 4 Social Studies textbook, Our Virginia: Past and Present, Arlington Public Schools (APS) officials announced today their decision to remove all print copies of the textbooks from circulation and use in Grade 4 classrooms," officials wrote in an email to parents.

The Washington Post reported in October that the textbook included a controversial assertion that thousands of African American soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War. The assertion is often made by Confederate heritage groups but is rejected by most historians.

A state-appointed panel of historians in December found dozens of additional errors in "Our Virginia" and "Our America to 1865," both of which were published by Connecticut-based Five Ponds Press.

Five Ponds Press announced Monday that it will provide free corrected editions of the books to school districts across the state in July. The Arlington school system has identified supplemental resources that the district's teachers can use until the corrected versions are received.

Post editors have compiled some of the errors that experts pointed out in "Our Virginia." Take our quiz and see if you know the right answers.

By Kevin Sieff  | January 12, 2011; 5:33 PM ET
Categories:  Education, Virginia  
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Arlington county certainly did the right thing here. But vigilance is now required that one set of errors isn't replaced with another.

Posted by: slim21 | January 12, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree that regiments of black soldiers never fought for the Confederacy.

But most people agree that plenty of white southerners fought for the Confederacy when in fact they had no stake in the outcome. Their lot would have never permitted them to rise to become plantation owners.

Since white southerners could misjudge their interests in the fight, couldn't black southerners make the same error?

Posted by: blasmaic | January 12, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ThreeQuarterCadillac | January 13, 2011 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Included in the texts should be a study of why white people who did not own slaves were accepting of this inhumane institution. Of course the entire country benefited and profited from free labor, but other than the financial gains, why didn't white people rise up and fight against this barbaric practice? They rose up against being over taxed, but did not as a nation fight against the inhumanity of slavery. At the same time they would label AA as lazy...while they watched them toil in fields. I think it would be great to study the motivations of the time and could shed some light on current racial hatred and disparity.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | January 13, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

when is the Poat going to bring to light that the Our America, 1865 to present is just as full of errors as the other editions. I teach American Studies II in front Royal and our text is full of bull.

Posted by: dirtball | January 13, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

When is the Post going to bring to light that the Our America, 1865 to present is just as full of errors as the other editions? I teach American Studies II in front Royal and our text is full of bull.

Posted by: dirtball | January 13, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

This incident provides an excellent opportunity to examine the entire issue of scholastic textbooks: who writes them? who edits them? who publishes them? who adopts them for schools and what are their 'agendas'? what pressures are there to adopt one text over another and why?
These textbooks fill our schoolrooms of our children and we pay virtually no attention to what's in them. Now would be a good time to start.

Posted by: ctenwith | January 13, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I know from experience that textbooks are generally shoddy and rife with errors, despite their high cost. In fact, I have never seen a textbook free of errors, which is inexcusable.

But Arlington's decision appears to be reckless and irresponsible, and is perhaps more ideologically than pedagogically motivated. We're told that teachers will use "supplemental materials . . . until the new versions arrive," but it also says that the new versions will not arrive until July! So students will be going half a year without textbooks! Virtually all textbooks contain some errors; surely an errata sheet could be provided, and the books kept in use.

Or, if the supplemental materials can truly substitute well for textbooks for half a year, this suggests that they can substitute for textbooks for an entire year, and there is no need to waste money on textbooks (at least in this subject) at all.

Posted by: S8thRd | January 13, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

For what its worth, 22,000 is MORE THAN 6000, so the textbook's statement is correct.

Regardless of somebody's ideas about meaning of the word, the Springfield Armory is famous for its revolution in armament manufacturing and "armory practice" is a term of art referring to an innovative approach to manufacture. Words meanings come from their use, and arms in deed were manufactured at the Springfield Armory.

Also, while it is true that since Roman times, water has been a power used in industry as it is today, coke powered steam engines were in use from the early 18th century. Whether what was seen in this case was powered by water motion or combustion of coke, is a different question. The question's options for answers are stupid.

Posted by: Don19 | January 13, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: addjian16 | January 13, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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