California Requires More Revisions From 6 Textbook Publishers
All six publishers asked by the California Board of Education in September to revise their 7th- and 8th-grade science textbooks because of their "watered down" treatment of evolution, human reproduction, and "ethical considerations" have been asked to submit further revisions.
That action will require some of the publishers to produce two versions of their textbooks--one for the California market and one for the rest of the nation, according to one of the publishers.
The publishers--Macmillan Publishing Company, Charles E. Mer4rill Publishing Company, Prentice-Hall Inc., Scott Foresman & Company, D.C. Heath & Company, and Holt, Rinehart, & Winston--met the board's Oct. 15 deadline for submitting revisions to a total of 24 textbooks. The board had said the revisions were necessary if the texts were to meet state guidelines on content.
But state officials, in a meeting with the publishers after the initial revisions had been reviewed, asked all six to revise further some portions of their texts.
Most of the new revisions requested were in the areas of evolution and human reproduction, said Francie Alexander, director of the state of-fice of curriculum framework and textbook development. She added that the publishers "did a nice job on the 'ethical considerations' across the board."
"We saw the revisions as first drafts," she said. "Some of the publishers are almost there and we just had a couple of suggestions as to examples that would improve the presentation of the content. Others will have to develop whole chapters. ... We just felt that [they] didn't get at the intent."
Ms. Alexander declined to give specific examples or identify the publishers involved.
A majority of the publishers, according to one of the six, believed they were asked to make further revisions because California, as the subject of so much press attention, had to prove that the changes it was seeking were substantial.
The publisher, who spoke last week on the condition that he not be identified, added that the firms had little choice but to comply with the request because California represents 11 percent of the national textbook market and spends about $100- million yearly on elementary- and secondary-school books.
But he noted that because of the state's request for further revisions, his company and a number of the others will have to produce one set of textbooks for California and another set for the rest of the nation.
"It's been a very expensive learning process," he said, noting that producing two versions of the same textbook would cost his firm "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
The publishers have been given until Nov. 13 to submit their second round of revisions, at which time the state textbook committee will meet to consider them. If the revised manuscripts remain unacceptable, Ms. Alexander said, the publication schedule will have to be extended.
The state board is scheduled to consider the revised books at its Dec. 12 meeting; it will also schedule two days of public testimony on issues pertaining to new portions of the books, Ms. Alexander said.
Final revisions must be completed by Feb. 21 so that school districts can begin placing orders for the adopted materials on March 1.