The Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR) today announces the release of The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion by Dr. Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra.
The five-year study of 28 history, geography, and social studies textbooks, published by Lexington Books, reveals that the most widely used textbooks in America's schools are presenting a distorted view of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the Middle East. The Trouble with Textbooks shows that textbooks are filled with errors, inaccuracies, and even propaganda.
"It is shocking to find the kind of misinformation we discovered in American textbooks and supplemental materials being used by schools in every state in the country," said co-author Dr. Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research. "Elected officials at every level should investigate how these offensive passages are creeping into our textbooks. Presenting false information in the classroom undermines the very foundation of the American educational system."
The authors found over 500 erroneous passages in the textbooks. One textbook charges that early Jewish civilization contributed little to the arts and sciences. "Excepting the Old Testament's poetry, the Jews produced very little of note in any of the art forms. . . . There is no record of any important [early] Jewish contributions to the sciences." (World Civilizations, Thomson Wadsworth)
Other misrepresentations are even more outrageous, including the denial of the Jewish roots of Jesus. As one textbook says, "Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus" (The World, Pearson / Scott Foresman).
"The textbooks tend to be critical of Jews and Israel, disrespectful about Christianity, and rather than represent Islam in an objective way, tend to glorify it," said co-author Dennis Ybarra. "To teach children, for instance, that Jesus was a Palestinian and deemphasize his Jewishness does a disservice to Christians and Jews as well as anyone who cares about historical accuracy."
The authors strongly recommend that parents, educators, and elected officials pay much closer attention to what is being presented in social studies textbooks. Parents in particular are encouraged to demand accountability on this issue from legislators, textbook authors and publishers, and school administrators.
The Trouble with Textbooks can be ordered at LexingtonBooks.com, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. More information and a summary of the study may be found at www.troublewithtextbooks.org.
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research analyzes a broad range of issues including racial and religious identity, philanthropy, and higher education. The Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank, and provides innovative research and pragmatic policy analyses to Jewish and other communities around the world. www.jewishresearch.org