Chapter & Verse
Neal Frey reads textbooks for a living, a job he finds singularly fulfilling. He does not own a television, a credit card, or even a wallet, preferring instead to carry his driver’s license in the front pocket of his oxford shirt. He has very few hobbies. He cannot remember the last time he read a book for the fun of it. After sifting through mountains of written material day after day, on subjects ranging from the fossil record to sexually transmitted diseases, by the time he comes home, he’s usually all read out.
Frey reads textbooks differently from the way most people did when they were in school. He combs through them line by line, recording page numbers and making observations on how their contents compare with his own set of written criteria. On a good day, he might make it through 50 pages. His mentor used to tell him it was better to write nothing about textbooks than to make nine strong points and one weak one. He lives by those words today.
For more than two decades, Frey has labored on behalf of Educational Research Analysts, a conservative Christian textbook-reviewing organization in Longview, Texas, founded by the famously outspoken husband-and-wife team of Mel and Norma Gabler. Since the early 1960s, the organization has sought to rid textbooks of factual errors, perceived liberal bias, and what its reviewers otherwise deem inappropriate content, mostly by exhorting publishers and state officials to make the changes they want. When Mr. Gabler died in 2004 at age 89, and Mrs. Gabler grew ill, it fell to their friend and protégé, the 61-year-old Frey, to...
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