A fourth-grade textbook given to students in Virginia is causing controversy for its claim that thousands of African-Americans fought for the South in the Civil War, The Washington Post reported.
The book, entitled “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” has been criticized for a passage about Blacks fighting for the South by individuals who argue that the idea stems from groups seeking to downplay slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.
The textbook’s author, Joy Masoff, said she acquired the information primarily through Internet research, most of which was based on the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization.
“It’s disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship,” Carol Sheriff, historian at the College of William & Mary told the Post. “It concerns me not just as a professional historian but as a parent.”
Numerous other scholars have called the school board over the textbook’s accounts. The state’s education officials told the Post that the vetting of the book was flawed, and they will contact schools across the state cautioning them against teaching the passage.
Still, Masoff is defending her work, and deems herself as a “respected writer.” She contends that the textbook was reviewed by an advisory board of educators and no one objected to the passage.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans, descendants of Confederate soldiers in Tennessee, have longed claimed there were a significant amount of Blacks that fought in the Civil War. They also argue that slavery wasn’t the cause of the war and soldiers fought “to preserve their homes and livelihood.”
The controversy surrounding the textbook’s passage comes nearly five months after the Texas State Board of Education was criticized for omitting and altering information in one of their textbooks.
According to the Associated Press, in May the Texas board tried to change the term “slave trade” to the Atlantic “triangular” trade, and also wanted to omit mention of President Obama. While some of the school board’s changes were blocked, others were approved including watered-down explanations of the Civil Rights Movement, religious freedoms and many other items.
“We do a disservice to children when we shield them from the truth, just because some people think it is painful or doesn’t fit with their particular views,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the AP back in May. “Parents should be very wary of politicians designing the curriculum.”