RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s Education Department approved a textbook that wrongly claims thousands of black troops fought for the Confederacy.
The agency is now warning schools about the mistake after a fourth-grader’s parent discovered the error in the Civil War chapter of “Our Virginia: Past and Present.” The parent, Carol Sheriff, is also a history professor at the College of William and Mary.
To borrow from Sir Ken Robinson, Every country in the world is reforming its public education system, and there are two reasons for it. The first is economic. […] The second is cultural. How do we pass on our cultural DNA?
And here we have a kind of evidence that the Confederacy is still looking to pass on its cultural DNA — however watered down, however diluted, however viralized or innocuous.
These textbooks are going to be used in fourth grade classrooms for five to ten years. And the ‘warning’, only verbalized but not integrated into the text, is not going to get passed on in an effective way to every class or to every fourth grader in the best possible way. The nature of the Civil War — its character, the causes and process of the war — will be mutated, oh so gradually, among a generation of students.
Parents think Wikipedia is dangerous because it can be altered by anybody? Well, have I got news for them… books are subject to exactly the same pressures, and its going to be a lot easier to get Wikipedia’s take on black soldiers in the Confederacy than to get these books changed.