America's Educators Rewriting World War II History

Article excerpt

In the age of political correctness, it is growing more difficult to decide what items should be cut from educational materials and what truths to put in their place.

Porter Crow was taken aback by what he read in the pile of high school textbooks surrounding him.

"It wasn't like this at all," said Crow, a professor at Barry University and a WWII veteran, to the Palm Beach Post. "This isn't history. It's wishful thinking."

He was referring to the emphasis on women and minorities in American history, especially during WWII.

A sentence reading "All shared equally the risks of battle" is one of the passages that caught Crow's attention. The line in the Prentice Hall textbook used by 11th graders in Florida was referring to the duties of black and white troops. But the words were not the only thing that alarmed Crow. The pictures and charts in the chapter "A World Conflict" also were putting a false emphasis on a diversity that did not exist in 1941.

This book spent several pages focusing on women in the armed forces. Women did play an important role in WWII, but of the 16,112,566 Americans who served, some 400,000 (18,000 overseas) were women. Based on the amount of space in the book allocated to women in WWII compared to the space given to white males, a student may conclude women had more of an impact on the outcome of the war than they actually did.

Crow is not the only observer who has found political correctness overtaking accuracy in textbooks. William Bennetta, an editor and the president of The Textbook League, located in Sausalito, Calif., a group that reviews textbooks, has found the same problems.

"World War II is systematically and grossly misrepresented for the sake of political correctness in textbooks," he said.

The Textbook League has been reviewing high school and middle school textbooks since 1989. The organization was started because there is no national review or evaluation of textbooks by experts before the texts are introduced into the classroom. …