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American history textbooks for Washington County ninth-graders to reflect more modern times

June 26, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

New American history textbooks for Washington County Public Schools’ ninth-graders will stress more modern times, Evelyn Williams, the supervisor for secondary social studies, told board of education members last week.

History curriculum for eighth- and ninth-graders will change a little this coming school year to allow ninth-grade history teachers more time to focus on the post-World War II era, up to and including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Williams said.

The board of education voted 5-2 during Tuesday’s meeting to approve “The American Vision: Modern Times” as the new textbook for U.S. Studies II, a required course. The cost of the textbooks and support materials is $152,510, according to presentation documents.

The new textbooks will be available for ninth-graders in time for the new school year, Director for Curriculum and Instruction Clyde Harrell said.

Eighth-grade history will now end with the period circa 1900, and ninth-grade history will start at circa 1900, Williams said.

Board member Karen Harshman voted against approval of the textbook because of the cost of replacing the previous textbooks, which are eight years old.

When she was teaching, textbooks weren’t replaced until they were more than 10 years old, Harshman said Thursday. Since these are history textbooks, they would only be missing eight years of history, Harshman said. She would prefer that history gap be closed with ancillary materials rather than new textbooks, she said.

Williams said the previous textbooks, “Creating America,” were almost out of print and would be expensive to replace. They also provide little electronic support, whereas the new textbook partners with National Geographic and comes with many electronic resources.

Board member Donna Brightman also voted against the new textbooks.

Brightman said she sees textbooks as static pieces of information that could contain errors. She said she has a problem with the amount of money going into textbooks and that two states — California and Texas — dictate textbook content.

“So I will probably start voting against textbooks just to be a contrarian and because I do think that we need to go to a more interactive source of information for our students.

“Our students are very mobile. Their source of information is very mobile and I think we’re behind the curve on that for them,” Brightman said during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Harrell said publishers are still working out how to publish textbooks on iPads and that texts for computers cost about the same as the hard-bound books.

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