Currently viewing the tag: "Textbooks"

Al-Azhar is the leading institution in Sunni Islam, which the New York Times has called “the most moderate Islamic educational institution.”

“Egyptian Cleric Miqdam Al-Khadhari on the Benefits of Al-Azhar Curricula: They are the Only Textbooks to Militarize the Students and Eplicitly [sic] Teach Jihad and Hatred of Jews,” from MEMRI, March 3:

Following are excerpts from interview with Egyptian cleric Miqdam Al-Khadhari, which aired on Al-Rahma/Al-Rawdha TV, on December 23, 2010.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2835.htm.

Miqdam Al-Khadhari: “This is a very important book, a textbook reader, which is an important school subject at Al-Azhar. In the general education system, it is known as the reading subject. Through it, the student is educated, he reads, and listens to the sheik. Let’s see what Al-Azhar is teaching our sons in this subject…”

Interviewer: “Let’s take, for example, the 11th grade…”

Miqdam Al-Khadhari: “We’ll take 11th grade because it is the most important grade, in which the youths are at a crucial stage of their lives. Let’s see what they are being taught at A-Azhar. This is the 2007-2008 reader for the 11th grade. [...]

“After four or five chapters, the book moves to a topic with a large title, as clear as day: ‘The Treachery of the Jews.’”

Interviewer: “Let’s show it to the viewers.”

Miqdam Al-Khadhari: “It’s the main title, not just a subhead – ‘The Treachery of the Jews.’ This title shows what the student is about to learn. It is not talking about something marginal. It’s an important topic. I haven’t seen any curriculum that presents this subject so explicitly. This is the curriculum of 2008. I’m not talking about something ancient. This is now! It’s a textbook from this year or last year. It reads: ‘The Jews thought that they were the Chosen People…’ It presents things very clearly.”

Interviewer: “That’s the reader…”

Miqdam Al-Khadhari: “Right after ‘The Treachery of the Jews’ – which takes up many pages, not just a word or two… It takes up six pages… The next title, right after ‘The Treachery of the Jews’ – I think that the camera can show the title… I’d like you to read it, dear brothers… ‘Islamic Jihad and Its Various Forms.’ Right after ‘The Treachery of the Jews’… You should know that the textbook of jurisprudence also teaches these topics, and so does the textbook on the Hadith.

“They teach these topics so that the student will be militarized when he graduates. After the 11th grade, he can move from Al-Azhar to a military academy. The young man graduates with this in his blood - ‘Islamic Jihad and Its Various Forms.’ I hope the camera can show it clearly.”

Interviewer: “Yes, it’s clear. It’s in the reader…”

Miqdam Al-Khadhari: “Look, when people want to know what their children are studying… This is Al-Azhar… The same Al-Azhar that opposed the British, fought the French, stood against the Tatars, and opposed the Crusader wars.” [...]

The mark of quality!

Jihad Watch

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The publisher of textbooks in which historians found major errors has said it will correct and replace the books at no cost to the Virginia schools they were used in, the Washington Post reports.

Five Ponds Press, a small publisher in Connecticut, is responsible for the books in question, which — among other errors — claimed that African Americans fought in large numbers for the south during the Civil War.

The publisher will donate the corrected textbooks this summer, according to a statement from Five Ponds Press publisher Lou Scolnik:

In order to address concerns that have been raised about two of our textbooks, OUR VIRGINIA and OUR AMERICA TO 1865, we are taking the unprecedented step of distributing free replacement copies of these books to the schools and districts that purchased First Edition copies.

In light of the discovery of the erroneous textbooks, Virginia’s Fairfax County school officials pulled “Our Virginia, Past and Present” from its classrooms, the Post reports.

While the publisher acknowledges the errors, he doesn’t think the media coverage has portrayed the situation accurately. Scolnik claims that many of the errors were corrected before the first editions were printed, and don’t appear in the books students are using now.

The errors were discovered after Virginia ordered a review of the books. Because Virginia’s Department of Education requires textbooks to fulfill specific “Standards of Learning” goals, many textbooks produced for a national market are unavailable to use — leaving Five Ponds Press in a unique situation of providing several books for the state.

Here is the Scolnik’s full statement:

In order to address concerns that have been raised about two of our textbooks, OUR VIRGINIA and OUR AMERICA TO 1865, we are taking the unprecedented step of distributing free replacement copies of these books to the schools and districts that purchased First Edition copies. We strive to provide high quality textbooks for Virginia students and are embarrassed that we failed to detect these mistakes during our production process. However, we hope that replacing the books will meet educators’ and students’ needs.

Although the books do regrettably contain a number of errors, we do not believe that media reports have accurately portrayed the situation. During our initial review, we have found that many of the issues identified by the Department of Education’s reviewers were corrected before we printed the First Editions and do not appear in the books students are currently using. Additionally, many of the reviewers took issue with the scope and content of the Virginia Standards of Learning, which our books adhere to, and are not technically “errors.” However, we are working diligently with the help of a historian from a prominent university in Virginia to respond to the Department of Education’s concerns and make the Second Editions error free. We are reviewing the reports prepared for the Department of Education and will reply to each point pursuant to the Department of Education’s request by January 21.

We are currently revising the online edition to correct these mistakes, and the replacement books will be available this summer. The first set of revisions will be available online by January 15, and we will continue to revise the online edition to reflect additional changes as we prepare to print the Second Edition.

Again, our deepest apologies for any trouble that our mistakes have caused. Much as we tailored our textbooks to meet the needs of the Virginia Standards of Learning, we hope to correct our mistakes in a way that meets everyone’s needs. We welcome any feedback, comments or suggestions that you have.



Sincerely,



Lou Scolnik, Publisher

Five Ponds Press







TPMMuckraker

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Surprise, surprise, historians have found glaring errors in a textbook claiming that African Americans fought in large numbers for the South during the Civil War.

A number of additional errors have been found in other textbooks being used in some Virginia classrooms, since the state ordered a review of the books, the Washington Post reports.

Among the textbooks’ errors are claims that the Confederacy included 12 states and the U.S. entered World War I in 1916. Five professional scholars reviewed the books, with three of them finding “disturbing” results. State officials are scheduled to meet January 10 to review the results.

“I absolutely could not believe the number of mistakes — wrong dates and wrong facts everywhere. How in the world did these books get approved?” said Ronald Heinemann, a former history professor at Hampden-Sydney College who reviewed “Our Virginia: Past and Present.” The other book mentioned in the report was “Our America: To 1865.”

Heinemann added that the book “should be withdrawn from the classroom immediately, or at least by the end of the year.”

Five Ponds Press, a small publisher in Connecticut, is responsible for the books in question. The Post reports that the publisher e-mailed to say the “historians’ critiques,” as the Post put it, will be included in the books’ next printing.

Virginia’s Department of Education requires textbooks to fulfill certain “Standards of Learning” goals, including making sure history standards provide “a basic knowledge of American culture through a chronological survey of major issues, movements, peoples, and events in the United States and Virginia history.”

The state’s Standards of Learning disqualifies many textbooks produced for a national market from being used, leaving Five Ponds Press in a unique position of providing several books for the state. Five Ponds’ books are reportedly less expensive than its competitors, too.







TPMMuckraker

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This is just a part of a Ray Fisman summary of recent research showing that management consultants can help companies in developing nations make huge productivity gains:

In an earlier study, Bloom worked with a pair of London School of Economics researchers to conduct a worldwide survey of management practices, using metrics of management quality similar to those employed by Accenture. They hired MBA students to interview managers at corporations in 17 countries. India ranked third from the bottom — just behind Brazil and one position ahead of China. Together, these three terribly managed economies constitute nearly 40 percent of the world’s population. [...]

The study’s findings suggest that we might do well to direct at least some of our aid funds toward building business schools in India and elsewhere in the developing world to provide their economies with the consultants and middle managers they need to create the corporate bureaucracies we so love to hate in America. Study co-author David McKenzie argues that another implication is that India should allow more multinationals to set up shop to serve as training grounds for managers. Of course, these multinationals will also drive the worst-managed Indian companies out of business, making this proposal a tough sell in a country with a history of economic nationalism.







Ezra Klein

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This is just a part of a Ray Fisman summary of recent research showing that management consultants can help companies in developing nations make huge productivity gains:

In an earlier study, Bloom worked with a pair of London School of Economics researchers to conduct a worldwide survey of management practices, using metrics of management quality similar to those employed by Accenture. They hired MBA students to interview managers at corporations in 17 countries. India ranked third from the bottom — just behind Brazil and one position ahead of China. Together, these three terribly managed economies constitute nearly 40 percent of the world’s population. [...]

The study’s findings suggest that we might do well to direct at least some of our aid funds toward building business schools in India and elsewhere in the developing world to provide their economies with the consultants and middle managers they need to create the corporate bureaucracies we so love to hate in America. Study co-author David McKenzie argues that another implication is that India should allow more multinationals to set up shop to serve as training grounds for managers. Of course, these multinationals will also drive the worst-managed Indian companies out of business, making this proposal a tough sell in a country with a history of economic nationalism.







Ezra Klein

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What is often lost in this discussion is the idea that the Board has the right and duty to exercise quality control over the content of its textbooks, and it would be reasonable for any such body to be concerned about bias, double standards, and agenda-driven statements in those books. The problem that responsibility is encountering here is Islam’s already privileged status, where anything but accolades is to be met with knee-jerk accusations of the worst possible intentions, so as to shut down the discussion and silence dissent.

An update on this story. “Texas ed board adopts resolution limiting Islam,” from the Associated Press, September 24:

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas State Board of Education adopted a resolution Friday that seeks to curtail references to Islam in Texas textbooks, as social conservative board members warned of what they describe as a creeping Middle Eastern influence in the nation’s publishing industry.

The board approved the one-page nonbinding resolution, which urges textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books, by a 7-5 vote.

Critics say it’s another example of the ideological board trying to politicize public education in the Lone Star State. Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which advocates for religious freedom, questioned why the resolution came at a time when “anti-Muslim rhetoric in this country has reached fever pitch.”

From that, you’d think those of us who criticize Islam’s teachings were rampaging in the streets, setting fire to piles of tires, hurling stones at government buildings, and calling for bloodshed.

Not us. But that’s precisely what has happened in Afghanistan over a Qur’an burning that never happened, and even the rumor of burnings.

“It’s hard not to conclude that the misleading claims in this resolution are either based on ignorance of what’s in the textbooks or, on the other hand, are an example of fear-mongering and playing politics,” Miller said.

Future boards that will choose the state’s next generation of social studies texts will not be bound by the resolution.

“This is an expression of the board’s opinion, so it does not have an affect on any particular textbook,” said David Anderson, the general counsel for the Texas Education Agency, when asked by a board member what legal weight the resolution would carry.

“So this is a cosmetic exercise?” asked board member Mavis Knight, a Democrat from Dallas.

The resolution cites world history books no longer used in Texas schools that it says devoted more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than Christian ones. Chairwoman Gail Lowe said the resolution cites old books because board rules prohibit them from discussing current books more than 90 days after their adoption.

“I believe that it’s happening in the current (social studies books) even though we can’t cover that in the resolution,” said board member Terri Leo, a Republican from Spring. The resolution sends a “clear message to publishers that it should not happen in the future.”

The resolution also claims “more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are doing now.” [...]

The resolution concludes by warning publishers the “State Board of Education will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world’s major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others.”

Eminently reasonable concerns.

Jihad Watch

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No kidding, really? “A Claim of Pro-Islam Bias in Textbooks,” by James C. McKinley, Jr., in the New York Times, September 22:

HOUSTON — Some conservative members of the Texas Board of Education assert that the history books used in this state have a pro-Islamic bias, and they are upset about it.

Never shy about wading into the culture wars, they are planning to vote Friday for a resolution that would send a blunt message to textbook publishers: Do not present a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian version of history if you want to sell books in one of the nation’s largest markets.

“The purpose of this resolution is to ensure there is balanced treatment of divergent groups,” Gail Lowe, the chairwoman of the board, said. “In the past, the textbooks have had some bias against Christianity.”

The resolution was written and submitted to the board this summer by, Randy Rives, who as a member of the school board in Odessa, Tex., pushed through a Bible study curriculum.

Last spring, Mr. Rives ran for the state board but failed to defeat the incumbent, Bob Craig, a moderate Republican.

Defeat at the polls did not dampen Mr. Rives’s enthusiasm for protecting Texas students from what he sees as a conspiracy to sugarcoat the history of Islam in textbooks. In interviews, Mr. Rives has likened his concerns about Islam to those he and other Americans once had about communists infiltrating American society.

Speaking to the state board last summer, he said that Middle Eastern companies were investing in American publishing houses, or the “textbook oligopoly,” as he called it.

“If you can control or influence our education system, you can start taking over the minds of the young people,” Mr. Rives said. “And so I think we are real passionate that you need to make a bold statement to the publishers that pushing this agenda will not be tolerated in Texas.”

As evidence of Islamic influence in textbook publishing, Mr. Rives cited a 2008 decision by the Dubai royal family to invest heavily in a company that owns the publishing house Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Boston….

Jihad Watch

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The Texas Board of Education, whose decisions can set textbook standards for the entire country, is now trying to take on the “Muslim propaganda” in world history books.

The social conservatives on the board, who earlier this year set new standards requiring textbooks to include sections on anti-Equal Rights Amendment crusader Phyllis Schafly, the Contract with America and the Christian beliefs of the Founders, want to pass a resolution warning textbook makers not to include “gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions” in their books.

According to board member Ken Mercer, many world history books are rife with such “Muslim propaganda.”

“One of the books I reviewed has 120 lines referencing Christian beliefs, but has 248 lines referencing Muslim beliefs,” Mercer told WOAI News Radio.

A draft of the resolution obtained by the Dallas Morning News reads, in part, that “diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts,” including “sanitized definitions of ‘jihad’ that exclude religious intolerance or military aggression against non-Muslims … which undergirds worldwide Muslim terrorism.”

This is in part due, the resolution argues, to “Middle-Easterners” infiltrating the textbook market.

“More such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are doing now,” it reads. As the Dallas Morning News pointed out, “They offered no specific evidence of such investments.”

The books the conservatives reference have also been out of Texas schools since 2003, as one Republican board member pointed out.

Because Texas has such a large public school system, the standards the state board sets have often been used by textbook manufacturers for the books they sell throughout the country. However, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in May that other states shouldn’t be concerned: “Textbook companies today have a real ability to customize textbooks.”

The board will vote on the resolution next week, when the board meets in Austin.

(H/T Think Progress)









Islam - Board of education - Religion and Spirituality - Social conservatism - Christian


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texasboardIn its battle against historical accuracy, the right-wing Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) decided to revamp the state’s social studies curriculum earlier this year, exchanging emphasis on the historical roles of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln with the roles of confederate leader Jefferson Davis and paranoid right-wing pundit Phyllis Schlafly. But “just when it appeared the State Board of Education was done with the culture wars,” SBOE is now deciding to dictate what students should learn about Islam.

SBOE’s “seven-member social conservative bloc” will bring up a resolution next week that “would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks.” The resolution demands textbook publishers no longer “taint” Texas textbooks with “gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions” and “false editorial stereotypes” that “still roil” certain textbooks used across the U.S.:

A preliminary draft of the resolution states that “diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts” across the U.S. and that past social studies textbooks in Texas also have been “tainted” with pro-Islamic, anti-Christian views.

The resolution cites examples in past world history books – no longer used in Texas schools – that devoted far more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than to Christian beliefs and practices.[...]

The resolution states that pro-Islamic, anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation and false editorial stereotypes “still roil” some social studies textbooks nationwide, including “sanitized definitions of ‘jihad’ that exclude religious intolerance or military aggression against non-Muslims … which undergirds worldwide Muslim terrorism.” [...]

The resolution concludes with the warning to publishers that the “State Board of Education will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world’s major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others.”

SBOE member Ken Mercer, who leads the conservative bloc, pushed to consider the resolution because he found that the textbooks’ “Islamic references are very positive to the point that it is whitewashed, while the references to Christianity are very negative.” Other board members charge that the resolution combats a sinister plot by “Middle Easterners” who “are investing in U.S. textbook companies to push their views.”

Some parents worry that the resolution will “prevent their kids from learning the facts.” Board member Pat Hardy, however, suggests that “the issue may be moot because none of the world history books cited by [the resolution] are still in use in Texas, having been replaced in 2003.”

And even if the resolution is adopted, “it would not bind future boards, which will choose the next generation of social studies textbooks within a few years.” SBOE’s conservative bloc also lost two of their own, including the resolution’s author, in March’s Republican primary and thus will be diminished when new members are seated next year. Still, the anti-Islam resolution may sway publishers as “Texas is one of the largest markets for school textbooks in the country,” and so “many publishers write the books using Texas standards, and then sell the same books to public schools in dozens of other states.”

Think Progress