New York Assemblymen Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) and Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) recently held a press conference with education activists to discuss their new bill banning anti-Semitic textbooks in the state.
The bill prohibits textbooks and materials that redefine the roles of Jews as well as Christians, African Americans and other racial groups in American history. In order to do so it will create a state textbook commission to regulate instructional material for New York state elementary schools.
"There is nothing more important than our children’s elementary school education because that experience shapes each child and helps inspire their futures – it is probably the most impactful period of their learning," said Curran.
"Everyone would agree that having textbooks depict accurate facts and data, and not misleading or confusing information, is of the utmost importance. The bias that exists in some textbooks currently in use today simply does not accurately represent Judeo-Christian history in the United States. By creating this commission, New York State will be in a better position to have input and oversight on what textbooks and instructional materials get used in our elementary schools."
Curran worked with education activists Dr. Sandra Alfonsi and Cindy Grosz, who found that some textbooks used in New York, Texas, Florida and Tennessee distort the facts of American history with anti-Semitic language, and show a pro-Islamic bias and "politically correct" content.
Hikind said, "this proposal to establish a commission to review education textbooks isn’t only welcome, it’s essential. Unfortunately, circumstances have proven the need to address anti-Semitism and the ongoing bias toward people of different race, religion, and ethnicity within our state public-school systems."
"Look no further than the two recent incidents within the Greater Hudson Valley area that saw highly inappropriate, anti-Semitic videos being shown to young impressionable minds.”
The bill states that its purpose is to create a commission to review textbooks, and remove those that show a slanted pro-Islamic bias, anti-Semitism, and anti-Judeo/Christian values. Aside from textbooks, materials brought into the classroom also fall into the scope of the commission's authority.
Activist Cindy Grosz, author of the book "Rubber Room Romance – Everything You Need to Know and Ask About the Education System" and US Northeast Coordinator for the group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, welcomed the bill.
"I commend Assemblyman Curran for recognizing that this is a serious and increasing problem in our country. Creating a bill that prevents this bias within our textbooks and educational system from occurring is a great step in the right direction," said Grosz.
"Textbooks and instructional material used in elementary classrooms should not be promoting any particular political or social agenda. It should be an accurate portrayal of how history has unfolded, as best as we can interpret it. This legislation will be an example of how New York State can lead the way into the quest for nonpartisan improvement of education, serving all students equally, without discrimination or bias."
For her part Dr. Sandra Alfonsi, director of the America Education Textbook Reform Project and chair of Curriculum Watch and National Hadassah, warned that in the textbooks, "the materials are cleverly prepared so that the bias is not clearly identifiable."