Earlier this year, The New York Times looked at different editions of the same public-school textbooks published in California and Texas and found them spun in opposite directions to suit the ideological tastes of the dominant political factions in those states. It was a handy summary of the long-raging curriculum wars that have seen politicians and activists battling to present their preferred interpretations of the world to the captive audiences in America’s classrooms.
Those are wars which many families will escape this fall as the pandemic and school closures push parents to assume responsibility for teaching their own children and, not incidentally, to pass along their own views and not those prepackaged by government officials. For all the damage COVID-19 and the fumbling human responses to the virus are doing, viewpoint diversity may actually get a boost.
America’s public-school textbooks, the Times story explained, reflect the country’s polarization.
“The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides,” Dana Goldstein wrote for the Times in January of this year. “Classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters,” she added.