Publishing textbooks has become an exercise over which the publishers themselves have next to no control, according to Sandra Stotsky, the author of Losing Our Language. In order to profit from their readers, publishers must gain the approval of not only prestigious educators and researchers who condone multiculturalism, but also state textbook adoption committees which recommend, by law, a list of textbooks each state can purchase, usually with mostly multicultural selections.
One major textbook editor told Stotsky, the former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, that “…children’s interests and literary quality were no longer criteria for selections.” The editor emphasized the importance of high-quality literature but stated that many other concerns guided their decision making.
Even more astonishing is the fact that not a single piece of research exists that links academic achievement directly to multicultural literature. However, several research studies have found that multicultural literature has little, if any, effect on student learning behaviors. Despite this research, multiculturalism is blindly favored by educators, teachers and school administrators throughout the nation.
Multiculturalism, the dominant force underlying the textbook gatekeepers’ political agendas today, is defined by Nicole E. House from Georgia State University as “the exploration of political and cultural oppression by a dominant force.” Stotsky blames this method for the demise of quality education because of its inordinate influence on school literature.
Multicultural messages were originally designed to highlight a race’s positive qualities and contributions to American culture. But as educators used more extreme measures to try to correct the failing educational system, this so-called multiculturalism evolved to enhance the esteem of non-Western cultures by portraying them as victims of a dominant Western civilization, while at the same time incessantly stressing the flaws of American culture and its foundations.
“Many teachers believed it was useful precisely because it served to elevate a minority group’s status, build group solidarity, give all students a realistic portrayal of the group’s history, and create guilt in white students,” writes Stotsky. Two negative results can emerge from this approach: the belief by members of minority groups that they, as victims of this society, cannot be held responsible for their actions, and the collective accusation of white students as domineering and racist.
In the name of multiculturalism, educational programs today also seek to complement ethnic diversity by allowing fewer difficult English words and more frequently providing advanced non-English vocabulary words. As a result, students spend a significant amount of time learning words which do not contribute to the advancement of their English skills.
Until we venture back to “outdated” educational methods statistically proven to academically benefit students, hope for improving educational scores will be set aside to obtain merely stagnant and stabilized education numbers—the major focus of multicultural educators today.
Lauren Crist works with the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, Texas.