Some Textbooks Propagate Ignorance, Not Learning

Published June 1, 1998

Although K-12 textbooks exert a profound influence on teachers and students, no national textbook evaluation process exists to scrutinize textbooks before they are adopted by America’s public schools. While textbook evaluations are conducted by state departments of education or local school districts, a critic charges these are often “bogus proceedings” where books are judged by people with no discernable qualifications for such work.

“Classroom teachers can be stuck with biology books that have never been reviewed by any biologist, history books that have never been seen by any historian, geography books that have never been evaluated by any geographer, or health-education books that have never been reviewed by any physician,” comments William J. Bennetta, president of The Textbook League.

Determined to do something about the situation, in 1989 a group of Californians founded The Textbook League and began to publish the authoritative textbook reviews that educators need. Each issue of the League’s bimonthly bulletin, The Textbook Letter, consists of reviews of middle school and high school books offered by major publishers. Reviews, typically conducted by a person who has professional qualifications in the pertinent discipline, focus strongly on factual and conceptual content.

Recently, the League published a collection of articles and reviews from its bulletin in The TTL Sampler, hoping to encourage readers to look closely at school textbooks and other instructional materials. Selected quotations from some of the reviews appear on this page.

Additional information about The Textbook League may be obtained from its Web site at, or by contacting the League at P.O. Box 51, Sausalito, CA 94966; email [email protected].

George A. Clowes is managing editor of School Reform News. His email address is [email protected].