Publisher Addresses Criticism

By Robert Rothman — March 11, 1987 1 min read

Charges that textbooks have avoided a discussion of religion in American society have found a sympathetic ear at Laidlaw Educational Publishers, one of the companies whose books U.S. District Judge W. Brevard Hand banned from Alabama classrooms.

“There has not been an appropriate amount of time spent on the role of religion in society,’' said Herbert R. Adams, president of the River Forest, Ill.-based firm. “I intend to respond.’'

Before Judge Hand issued his decision, Mr. Adams said in an interview that the company had contracted with authors to produce a supplemental textbook, to be released by the end of the year, that would include more about religion.

In addition, Mr. Adams said, the company will review all its books currently in use with an eye toward revising them.

Two major studies released last year--a federally financed report by Paul C. Vitz, a New York University researcher, and a review of history textbooks by People for the American Way, a liberal lobbying group--found that textbooks tended to avoid mentioning religion at all.

The two analyses found, for example, that a 6th-grade social-studies book published by Laidlaw failed to mention God in its discussion of Joan of Arc, and that other books neglected to mention that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister.

“We don’t want to be guilty of indoctrination,’' Mr. Adams said. “That’s not our point. But we can show where religious views caused certain events, and led to the development of certain leaders.’'

Although other publishers have not yet indicated whether they plan to develop similar revisions, Mr. Adams predicted that they will do so.

“Publishers who resist this will be taken to task for it,’' he said.

A version of this article appeared in the March 11, 1987 edition of Education Week as Publisher Addresses Criticism