Virginia Board of Education withdraws approval of two history textbooks

January 13, 2011

The Virginia Board of Education on Thursday withdrew its approval of two elementary school history textbooks that a panel of historians found to have dozens of errors.

The Washington Post reported in October that "Our Virginia, Past and Present," a fourth-grade textbook, included a controversial assertion that thousands of African American soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War.

In December, a state-appointed panel of historians found dozens of additional errors in "Our Virginia" and "Our America to 1865," which is used by students in the fifth and sixth grades in some Virginia districts. Both books are published by Five Ponds Press.

Despite the withdrawal of approval, a school system that uses the books does not have to stop doing so. The education board also ordered a review by experts of any other approved textbooks published by Five Ponds Press. The company has four world history books that are approved for use in the state's classrooms.

The Board of Education also ordered the state superintendent to present a "detailed proposal to revise the Board's process for approving textbooks for purchase by school divisions to ensure that all textbooks approved are factually accurate."

Kevin Sieff has been The Post’s bureau chief in Afghanistan since 2012. He served previously as an education reporter in Washington, and had covered the U.S. -Mexico border.
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