Education

Texas Board Of Education Member Dismisses Outrage Over Textbooks Calling Slaves ‘Workers’

CREDIT: Pat Sullivan, AP

Roni Dean-Burren, the Texas mother and University of Houston student who criticized McGraw-Hill's textbook.

After Roni Dean-Burren noticed a passage in her son’s textbook that called slaves “workers” and placed slaves in the section “Patterns of Immigration,” she took to social media to criticize the publisher. After her social media posts received widespread media attention, the textbook publisher, McGraw-Hill, agreed to publish new textbooks that would accurately describe slavery. Parents were still unhappy, however, and complained that the textbooks are still out there with inaccurate and offensive language.

On Wednesday, McGraw-Hill CEO David Levin went on HuffPostLive to respond to the controversy and said that schools would receive new books if they request them. Levin also said schools would also be provided lesson plans on cultural competency and stickers to cover up the text.

Levin said, “It was inaccurate and improper… We are going through a process ourselves to understand quite how it could have slipped through, [but] along the way it’s been seen by hundreds of people … we’ve given them an alternative, which is a lesson plan talking specifically [to] the issues around communication, language awareness, and cultural competency. And if they want they can use that lesson plan, and along with that lesson plan, we would be providing them a covering sticker. And while they ceremoniously cover up the offensive text, they’d be in a position to go to the lesson plan on these precise things.”

Although McGraw-Hill chose to acknowledge the problem in this case, a member of the Texas Board of Education, which has a significant role in the textbook industry, chose to dismiss the mother’s concerns. According to the Texas Tribune, a Republican education board member, David Bradley, said the publisher went “overboard” in rectifying the issue and said the situation was straight out of a Seinfeld episode.

Bradley added that he thought people were too easily offended by the textbook, saying to the Tribune, “I applaud the publisher for trying to make a fix and something should be done, but I don’t advocate replacing all the textbooks in the world. It’s not fatal … Unfortunately, in our culture, everybody is too easily offended … Something else I’ve learned is people are only offended if they choose to be offended.”