A Sampling of K-12 Textbook Reviews

Published June 1, 1998

The Good

Introductory Physical Science (1994)
Science Curriculum Inc., Belmont, Mass.

“This is an outstanding book, written by authors who know what science is about, know their subject matter, and know how to teach it to 8th-graders and 9th-graders. . . . [It is short] because the authors are intent on showing students how to do science, not on stuffing the students’ heads with disjointed results. . . . They understand that physical science is inherently fascinating to young people, and they know how to sustain that fascination, so they have no need to load their books with distracting confections. . . .

“Throughout Introductory Physical Science, simple experiments enable the student to arrive at exciting and useful conclusions. . . . Introductory Physical Science is a delight, and students who spend a school year with this textbook will be very well prepared to take advanced science classes in high school, because they will have made scientific methodology their own.”
Lawrence S. Lerner, TTL 1995

Street Law: A Course in Practical Law (1994)
West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minn.

“An outstanding presentation of important subject matter. . . . Each problem is followed by explanatory text. Here the writers try to help the student think analytically about the situation that has been presented, and provide hints about what a good solution might be. . . . [The Street Law materials] are almost unrivaled in their ability to present important subject matter and to launch students onto a course of critical thinking.”
Albie Burke, TTL 1996

The Bad

Science Insights: Exploring Matter and Energy (1997 Texas Edition)
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Inc., Menlo Park, Calif.

“Addison-Wesley is still at it–still producing ‘science’ texts larded with false and misleading claims that promote magic and conflate science with superstition. . . . All the howlers [from an earlier edition] are still in place, including the twins who were 0 cm long at birth, the iceberg that violates Newton’s first law, the bogus ‘explanation’ of a diesel engine, the botched diagrams of electrical devices, and even the dumb notion that ECNALUBMA is the mirror image of AMBULANCE. . . .

“Though the ‘Texas edition’ is obviously trash, it has in fact been adopted by Texas’ Board of Education for use as a 9th-grade science book. . . .”
William J. Bennetta, TTL 1997

Motion, Forces, and Energy (1993)
Prentice-Hall School Division, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

“What a display of ignorance! Motion, Forces, and Energy is worthless, but it is also remarkable. I’m amazed that the writers have been able to pack so much bad ‘science’–so much misinformation and error and ignorance–into a mere 144 pages. The book is remarkably bad in other ways as well, for it displays false ‘history,’ bad writing, defective pedagogy, and a patronizing attitude toward blacks. . . .”
Lawrence S. Lerner, TTL 1992

and the Ugly

Merrill Life Science (1993)
Glencoe Division, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill School Publishing Company, Westerville, Ohio

“This ignorant, shoddy book deserves only to be junked. . . . The book’s text contains innumerable statements, presented as facts, that are simply untrue. The writing is so badly loaded with non-sequiturs and contradictions that any teacher or student who has a sense of logic will be driven up the wall. . . . The exercises and activities in Merrill’s book are as ignorant as the text. . . . [The writers] urge the student to form opinions in the absence of information. . . . The student learns to substitute ignorance and sham for knowledge and reason!”
Ellen C. Weaver, TTL 1993

Concepts in Modern Biology (1993)
Globe Fearon Publisher, Paramus, New Jersey

Concepts in Modern Biology suffers from rampant errors, a naive oversimplification of concepts, and the omission of biological information that every high-school student should learn. . . . It is easy to see that the writers lack familiarity with basic principles of biology. . . . Along with its shocking collection of errors, the book also shows irresponsible omissions. . . . The section on human reproduction doesn’t have a single word about contraception, but it gives three paragraphs to the treatment of infertility! . . . [T]he writers say that ‘the cause of AIDS is not known’!”
Terrence M. Gosliner, TTL 1994