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The Trouble with Textbooks

Distorting History and Religion

Gary A. Tobin and Dennis R. Ybarra

School textbooks in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds are filled with anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda. Most readers will be shocked to discover that history and geography textbooks widely used in America's elementary and secondary classrooms contain some of the very same inaccuracies about Jews, Judaism, and Israel. Did you know that 'there is no record of any important Jewish contribution to the sciences?' (World Civilizations, Thomson Wadsworth). Or that 'Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus?' (The World, Scott Foresman/Pearson). Supplemental materials and other classroom influences are even worse. The Trouble with Textbooks exposes the poor scholarship and untruths in textbooks about Jews and Israel. The problems uncovered in this ground-breaking analysis are instructive, and illustrate the need for reform in the way textbooks are developed, written, marketed, and distributed. Substitute another area_how we teach American history, Western civilization, or comparative religion_and we have another, equally intriguing case study. The Trouble with Textbooks shows what can go terribly wrong in discussing religion, geography, culture, or history_and in this case_all of them. The Trouble with Textbooks tells a cautionary tale for all readers, whatever their background, of how textbooks that Americans depend on to infuse young people with the values for good citizenship and to help acculturate students into the multicultural salad that is American life, instead disparage some groups and teach historical distortions. With millions of young people using these textbooks each year, the denigration of some should be a concern for all. « less more »
Lexington Books / Institute For Jewish & Community Rsh
Pages: 224Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-3093-3 • Hardback • July 2008 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
978-0-7391-3094-0 • Paperback • July 2008 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-3095-7 • eBook • July 2008 • $35.99 • (£24.95)
Gary A. Tobin is the president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and the author of The UnCivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education. Dennis R. Ybarra is a research associate at the Institute for Jewish & Community Research.
Chapter 1 Textbooks Are in Trouble
Chapter 2 When the Textbook Is Not Enough: Supplemental Materials,Teacher Trainings, and More
Chapter 3 Learning about Jewish Origins: Stereotypes of Jews
Chapter 4 Jews, Judaism, and Christianity
Chapter 5 Double Standards in Teaching about Judaism Compared to Islam
Chapter 6 The Ancient History of Israel
Chapter 7 The Founding of Israel: Rights to the Land, War, and Refugees
Chapter 8 Terrorism and Internal Conflict
Chapter 9 Conclusion
Chapter 10 Methodology
Chapter 11 Appendix A: Textbooks Reviewed by Publisher Parent Company
Chapter 12 Appendix B: Familiar Imprints of Major Textbook Publishing Corporations
Chapter 13 Appendix C: Textbook Usage Survey: Extent of Usage by Publisher Parent Company
Chapter 14 Appendix D: Textbook Usage Survey: Survey Instrument
Chapter 15 Appendix E: Outline of the Arab Narrative
The Trouble with Textbooks is a very important book not only for Jews but for the entire Christian community. This volume is an excellent tool for anyone who is interested in balanced information that is fair and reliable concerning Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Rev. John J. Keane, SA, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement

One of my greatest challenges in the university classroom is to teach critical thinking. Most undergraduates, though, consider the course textbook revealed truth and refuse to question it. The Trouble with Textbooks reveals that what passes for academic writing must be challenged.
Marc Dollinger, San Francisco State University

This book is a must-read for anyone who cares what American school children are learning about history and religion. I was dismayed to learn just how much our nation's school systems and the publishing industry 'dumb down' vital information about religion and how wrong it is. There is powerful and frightening information in this book that gives readers a sense of outrage.
Carolivia Herron, PAUSE Creative Writing Program, in partnership with Washington, D.C., Public Schools

The Trouble with Textbooks should shock and concern everyone in the educational establishment. This groundbreaking study unflinchingly exposes the dissemination of inaccurate and false history. As the book makes plain, parents and responsible educators must steadfastly demand greater accuracy in the social studies textbooks used to educate entire generations of our schoolchildren. I strongly recommend reading this book from cover to cover.
Ephraim Isaac, Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, New Jersey

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....The authors found over 500 erroneous passages in the textbooks.
9/24/08; Market Watch

Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra have produced a work of incomparable value. They have exposed an extraordinary pattern of errors, distortions and falsehoods in public school textbooks, teacher training and supplemental materials. More frightening is the stunning extent to which our children are being indoctrinated with anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli materials. Every parent, educator, and policy-maker should read this book.
Kenneth L. Marcus, City University of New York

Of great value. Recommended.
H. M. Miller; CHOICE

This book exposes the poor scholarship and untruths in textbooks about Jews and Israel. The problems uncovered in this analysis illustrate the need for reform in the way textbooks are developed, written, marketed, and distributed.
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies, Summer 2009