The image today is of a decommissioned lighthouse that was built in 1855 at the mouth of Patapsco River in the Chesapeake Bay. In 1997 it was moved to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore where it’s managed by the Baltimore Maritime Museum. I took the photo from my hotel room through a window on a tripod and the next day walked down to it. Would have been a cool place to hang out in its day!
TEXAS AND THE CORPORATE FUNDING OF TEXTBOOKS
I have shared my views already about public education’s adoption of the common core, but now I need to vent about another related issue: corporations funding and influencing the content of education.
In a recent interview of Bill Bigelow, a retired educator and advocate for children, he provides numerous examples of how corporations provide funding to major textbook publishers in return for influence over the content. In a case that made headlines, Scholastic received funding from the American Coal Foundation to produce curriculum for fourth graders on energy in America. As you might imagine, the content was sided to the advantages of coal and never mentioned once the significant environmental impact on our land and health. Once the whistle was blown the company withdrew the curriculum. But this is just one example of many that now make me question who is really in control of public education.
When Bill taught social studies in high school he would ask students who discovered America? Hands would fly and in unison all would say Christopher Columbus. Then he would ask Who did he discover? Some students would say Indians, but then he probe further – What nationality? What were their names? As you might imagine, not one student had an answer. In truth, I can’t answer these questions either. The exercise points out just how one-sided many of our history lessons have been.
In another example of curriculum influence beyond corporations, high school students in Portland are required to take one course on world history. The textbook, Modern World History, has 34 teacher-advisors whom influence content, 17 of them all from the state of Texas. There are two pages on the Iraq War and no mention of demonstrations, backlash against WMDs, or even a quote from an Iraqi to balance the reporting of the event. Even worse, the critical writing task at the end of the chapter asks students to craft a victory speech for President Bush to deliver to coalition forces.
My hats off to Bill and others for bringing this issue to light and advocating on behalf of our children. Our kids deserve an education that will appropriately prepare them for the challenges they will face in the future, not one-sided corporate-influenced propaganda.