January 10th, 2011
By: Theresa Collington
It’s a textbook case of getting it wrong. A Virginia elementary school textbook will soon be history after a college professor and parent, caught more than one mistake in it.
Turns out the errors she spotted were not the only ones. Some of the glaring errors had to do with African-Americans and the Civil War.
“The United States entered World War I in 1916.” Wrong – it was 1917.
“There were 12 confederate states.” Also wrong – actually, there were 11.
“In 1800, New Orleans was a U.S. port.” Wrong yet again – the port of New Orleans was still under Spanish control at the time.
These and dozens of other errors can be found in the textbook handed out to thousands of Virginia fourth graders. Problems with the book ‘Our Virginia: Past and Present’, published by Five Ponds Press, first surfaced last October, as reported by the Washington Post, when the mother of one student, a college history professor, spotted several lines on page 122.
“It was particularly jarring when I got to this one passage that was so at odds with what historians have been saying about who participated in the Civil War,” said William & Mary Professor Carol Sheriff, a parent of one student.
The book says thousands of southern blacks fought in the confederate ranks, something not supported by mainstream Civil War scholarship. But it’s the next line that’s just plain wrong: “including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” The textbook actually, does note that it wasn’t ’til 1865 that African-Americans could legally serve in the confederate army. It also tells children that Stonewall Jackson died in 1863.
The error about blacks serving in the confederate army was outrageous to many in academia.
“It is the equivalent of Holocaust denial being taught in the public schools. But worse, it’s also equivalent to saying the Jews helped the Holocaust,” Sheriff said.
The textbook’s author, who is not a historian, said she found the information while researching on line. The publisher defended the author saying she used real books as well.
“I don’t think the author could necessarily be accused of being stupid and doing Internet-only research,” said Jeremy Mayer, George Mason University.
Due to the outcry, the Virginia Board of Education hired five historians to review the textbook in November. They were the ones who found the dozens more mistakes or misrepresentations, leading one to ask, “How in the world did these books get approved?” He recommended they be pulled from the classroom immediately.
As to who selected the books in the first place, that is actually done by the individual school districts in Virginia that are now using the books. To fix that problem of the wrong information regarding blacks serving in the confederacy the publisher came up with this idea: stickers. Meaning the right information would be placed over the wrong information.
The problem is now there are so many errors in the textbook everyone agrees that they don’t have enough stickers. The publisher says the second edition of the book will correct everything. But those school districts with the first edition, they are going to be meeting after the first of the year to determine what to do.
September 24, 2009
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The sun is setting on the US dollar as the ultra-loose monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve forces China and the vibrant economies of the emerging world to forge a new global currency order, according to a new report by HSBC.
“The dollar looks awfully like sterling after the First World War,” said David Bloom, the bank’s currency chief.
“The whole picture of risk-reward for emerging market currencies has changed. It is not so much that they have risen to our standards, it is that we have fallen to theirs. It used to be that sovereign risk was mainly an emerging market issue but the events of the last year have shown that this is no longer the case. Look at the UK – debt is racing up to 100pc of GDP,” he said
Crucially, China and rising Asia have reached the point where they can no longer keep holding down their currencies to boost exports because this is causing mayhem to their own economies, stoking asset bubbles. Asia’s “mercantilist mindset” of recent decades is about to be broken by the spectre of an inflation spiral.
The policy headache was already becoming clear in the final phase of the global credit boom but the financial crisis temporarily masked the effect. The pressures will return with a vengeance as these countries roar back to life, leaving the US and other laggards of the old world far behind.
A monetary policy of near zero rates – further juiced by quantitative easing – is completely incompatible with circumstances in most of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Divorce is inevitable. The US is expected to hold rates near zero through 2010 to tackle its own crisis.
What is occurring is an epochal loss in the relative wealth and economic power of the old G10 bloc of rich countries compared to rising regions of the world. The euro, yen, sterling, Swiss franc and other mature currencies will be relegated along with the dollar in this great process of rebalancing, but the Greenback will bear the brunt.
The Fed’s super-loose policy is turning the dollar into the key funding currency for the next phase of the global “carry trade”, taking over the role of Japan during its period of emergency stimulus.
Mr Bloom said regional currencies would emerge as the anchor for their smaller trading partners, with China, Brazil, or South Africa substituting the role of the US. Australia is already linking its fortunes to China through commodity ties.