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Report: More 'Glaring' Errors in Va. History Textbook

Dec 29, 2010 – 1:08 PM
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Mara Gay

Mara Gay Contributor

The Virginia history textbook that raised eyebrows when it claimed that large numbers of black soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War is under scrutiny again, after a review of the book found dozens of errors that historians call disturbing.

Among the mistakes: the claim that 12 states joined the Confederacy, not 11, and that 6,000 soldiers died during the Battle of Bull Run during the Civil War, instead of 22,000. Three of the five historians who reviewed "Our Virginia: Past and Present" at the request of the state board of education said they were appalled.

"I absolutely could not believe the number of mistakes -- wrong dates and wrong facts everywhere. How in the world did these books get approved?" Ronald Heinemann, a former history professor at Hampden-Sydney College, told The Washington Post.

The textbook, published by Five Ponds Press, was not written by a trained historian. The Virginia board of education ordered a small panel of historians to review the fourth-grade textbook earlier this year when experts challenged its claim that thousands of blacks fought for the Confederacy.

Five Ponds Press said it planned to incorporate the edits into the text's next edition. "Most of the items you reference have been identified, and we sent a notice a week ago to the Virginia Department of Education with our intent to make these edits in the book's next printing," Lou Scolnik, Five Ponds Press' owner, told the Post.

Virginia education officials will meet Jan. 10 to discuss the panel's work. "The findings of these historians have certainly underscored and added urgency to the need to address the weaknesses in our system so we don't have glaring historical errors in our books," Charles Pyle, a spokesman for Virginia's Department of Education, told the paper.

Read more at The Washington Post.
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