Monday, August 21, 2006

Aiming for Diversity, Textbooks Overshoot

I find it hard to get too worked up over this, though it's certainly a good symbol of a system that spends a whole lot of time and effort on all sorts of largely irrelevant -- and, in many cases, counterproductive -- political correctness and not enough time on the fact that 58% of black and 54% of Latino 4th graders in this country are ILLITERATE!!! 
My oldest daughter just finished 4th grade and is quickly devouring 1,000-page Harry Potter books and the like.  I find it hard to conceive of a child her age who can't read "See Spot Run", yet this is the case for the MAJORITY of black and Latino children her age.  (Note that these statistics are not limited to low-income children from broken families who attend failing schools, but ALL of them across the country!)  This is a catastrophe of enormous proportions, yet how many Americans are even aware of this?!

Aiming for Diversity, Textbooks Overshoot

Publishers use quotas in images to win contracts in big states, but they may be creating new stereotypes.
Able-bodied kids pose in wheelchairs
August 19, 2006; Page A1

BOSTON -- The prop room on the fourth floor of Houghton Mifflin Co.'s offices here holds all manner of items, including a blackboard, a globe, an aquarium -- and a wheelchair.

Able-bodied children selected through modeling agencies pose in the wheelchair for Houghton Mifflin's elementary and secondary textbooks. If they're the wrong size for the wheelchair, they're outfitted with red or blue crutches, says photographer Angela Coppola, who often shoots for the publishing house.

Ms. Coppola estimates that at least three-fourths of the children portrayed as disabled in Houghton Mifflin textbooks actually aren't. "It's extremely difficult to find a disabled kid who's willing and able to model," she says. Houghton Mifflin, which acknowledges the practice, says it doesn't keep such statistics...

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