Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker, other Dem governors warn school textbook publishers: “Sanitizing our educational texts for the mercurial comfort of a few today ultimately limits the next generation’s ability to make informed decisions for themselves”
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Pritzker, other Dem governors warn school textbook publishers: “Sanitizing our educational texts for the mercurial comfort of a few today ultimately limits the next generation’s ability to make informed decisions for themselves”

Friday, Jun 2, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman at the Washington Post

We have also learned that nine Democratic governors representing nearly 9 million students have sent a letter to leading textbook companies decrying “the negative impact that censorship and book-banning has on this nation’s students.” The letter indicates that the governors are watching closely to see if attacks on the companies by right-wing governors — such as DeSantis — are producing books that are “inappropriately censored.”

Phil Murphy, governor of New Jersey and the head of the Democratic Governors Association, says these governors will be modeling an alternative to right-wing censorship going forward.

“There’s a broad lane available for Democratic governors to reclaim the mantle of core American values — freedom, patriotism, rights,” Murphy told us. Murphy recently responded to DeSantis’s restrictions on an Advanced Placement course on African American studies by expanding the number of such classes in his state.

* Illinois’ governor signed the letter

Dear Textbook Publishers,

We are deeply troubled by the news of some textbook publishers yielding to the unreasonable demands of certain government representatives calling for the censorship of school educational materials, specifically textbooks.

We write to you out of concern that those who are charged with supporting the education of this country’s students, such as yourselves, may be tempted to water down critical information to appeal to the lowest common denominator. We urge any company who has not yet given in to this pressure to hold the line for our democracy.

Our country’s future is at stake. You hold enormous influence in shaping how our great nation’s history is told, and the consequences of your actions will reverberate for generations to come. Honestly grappling with our legacy has long been a cornerstone of American patriotism. If we are to continue striving for a more perfect union, then we must carry out our duty of ensuring future generations understand our full history as well as the contributions of all its people. That includes learning from our mistakes. These lessons are vital to preparing our youth to fully engage in a free and fair democracy. Sanitizing our educational texts for the mercurial comfort of a few today ultimately limits the next generation’s ability to make informed decisions for themselves. Moreover, the negative impact that censorship and book-banning has on this nation’s students – many already marginalized and underrepresented in society – cannot be overstated during a time when we are facing an unprecedented youth mental health crisis. Each and every single student in the United States of America has the right to exist, to be seen, and to be represented.

It is an important priority of our administrations to ensure that any educational materials censored to appeal to political pressure do not negatively impact our educational goals and values in our states. As such, please know that we will be working closely with all of our school districts to ensure they are fully informed of which texts include comprehensive and accurate educational information – and which have been inappropriately censored – when they consider procurement of instructional materials for the nearly nine million students our states serve.

…Adding… From the governor’s office…

In addition to the Association of American Publishers, the letter was sent to:

    Cengage Learning
    Goodheart-Willcox
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    McGraw Hill Education
    Pearson
    Routledge Taylor and Francis Group
    Savvas Learning Co.
    Scholastic
    Teachers Curriculum Institute

       

19 Comments
  1. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:28 am:

    There’s a half dozen words in that headline that book-banners don’t understand.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:41 am:

    The alternative histories and facts to historic content, or refusing to acknowledge actual history is the devolving of a part of society where being angry and white is standing up for “history”, because history to race and equality is too much for some to have taught.

    The devolving includes banning books but more pointedly banning history.

    As a society, this is not a good thing when the warnings are these to books.


  3. - H-W - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:45 am:

    @ Flyin’ Elvis - Did you include the word “our” in your list? A lot of book banners have no understanding of the concept of “our” children, and “our” books and “our” future. Too many are grounded in parochialism, and fail to accept that “we” live in communities, we do not live in monocultures.


  4. - OneMan - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:45 am:

    It also makes American History class boring as heck.

    Here is where we may have screwed up.
    Do you think we screwed up, why or why not?
    What do you think we learned from that?

    Two questions that make history a lot more interesting.

    If you wanted to read something where the main character is always right might I suggest a Tom Clancy Jack Ryan book


  5. - illinifan - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:50 am:

    Glad to see this being done by the governor and his administration. That said, in Illinois, teachers are still able to supplement textbooks as part of their lesson plans. Teachers have always done this by assigning students independent projects.


  6. - Pundent - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:54 am:

    Book banning is nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to move towards theocracy where the only information that’s allowed is made up. A few years ago we’d only read about such attempts in The Onion.

    While the GOP continues to express its outrage over books they don’t like, the kids that they’re trying to protect will continue to laugh as they stare into their phones looking at Tik Tok videos and who knows what else. I do not recognize this party anymore.


  7. - Loyal Virus - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:58 am:

    That’s my governor. More of this from other Govs, please.


  8. - Norseman - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:01 am:

    === for the mercurial comfort ===

    An unnecessarily nice way of saying acquiescing to the hate of bigots.

    In any event, bravo to JB and others for standing up against this abomination.


  9. - Steve - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:06 am:

    The New York Times has an important article on this subject.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/12/us/texas-vs-california-history-textbooks.html


  10. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:45 am:

    Unless things in the textbook biz have changed a lot over the last 15 years, the textbook publishers design the nation’s textbooks to comply with the textbook adoption committees of the biggest states - mainly Texas and (I think) California.
    Because…..Money.


  11. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:45 am:

    “troubled by the news of some textbook publishers yielding to the unreasonable demands of certain government representatives calling for the censorship of school educational materials, specifically textbooks”

    Under (105 ILCS 5/2-3.155) the textbook block grant program - the Illinois State Board of Education must approve textbooks that meet IL law …

    “must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act”

    and in
    (105 ILCS 5/27-21) (from Ch. 122, par. 27-21)
    US History text must include the contribution of just about every group you could think of…

    “shall include a study of the role and contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups, including, but not restricted to, Polish, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, Irish, Bohemian, Russian, Albanian, Italian, Czech, Slovak, French, Scots, Hispanics, Asian Americans… In public schools only, the teaching of history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.”

    I suppose other states may have other standards - JB should impress upon the textbook publishers of the purchasing power for all the textbooks for the 850 school districts in IL.


  12. - thisjustinagain - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:20 am:

    The censorship and dumbing-down of American pre-college textbooks isn’t new, see the book “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong” by James W. Loewen. He wrote about this issue in 1995.


  13. - Arsenal - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:29 am:

    ==JB should impress upon the textbook publishers of the purchasing power for all the textbooks for the 850 school districts in IL.==

    I agree. It pales in comparison to Texas, but it’s not nothin’.


  14. - Lurker - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:39 am:

    Any headline with mercurial comfort in it is a great headline.

    And that’s the only way you can deal with crazies like DeSantis, head-on.


  15. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:09 pm:

    Why not self publish preferred materials in Illinois? Who needs these text book publishers? They are the TicketMaster of education.


  16. - JS Mill - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:37 pm:

    Good on the Governor.

    Since the advent of the chromebook, school have been moving toward online “texts” so it is easier than ever for textbook companies to differentiate between states that are not afraid of the truth and those trying to indoctrinate their students with lies like Florida and Texas.

    Good schools, like ours I am proud to say, have been moving away from the standard textbook concept. So many quality open source materials, especially for math and science, and easy to access primary source docs have made textbooks less than essential.


  17. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:27 pm:

    =… Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong” by James W. Loewen.=
    Yes. Excellent book on the topic.
    Just googled “James W. Loewen” to see if he had a take on what’s happening now and sadly discovered that he recently passed away.


  18. - Merle Webb’s Jumpshot - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:38 pm:

    I have to agree with JS Mill in that the high school that my children attended have moved away from using textbooks. I think there was still a textbook for Pre-Calc and AP Bio, but those might have been the only ones either of my children used during high school.


  19. - H-W - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 4:06 pm:

    Jim Loewen was from Decatur, IL. He also wrote the book, Sundown Towns, which is a very important book for understanding the Jim Crow era in Illinois and elsewhere.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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