Feminists Altering Textbooks?

About 8 months ago I was watching Book TV and saw a woman speaking about various things she considered injustices.

One thing she did say, in a calm voice with detail, matter-of-factly, that feminists complained to the maker of a psychology textbook about the fact that the book reported findings that day care was an inferior alternative to stay-at-home parenting because they [feminists] felt this would discourage mothers from getting jobs. She then continued that the textbook company removed the content in the next edition and when asked about it said the reason wasn’t due to any factual inaccuracy of the information.

This, if true, bothers me. Does anybody know of this?

Here is as much as I can remember about her, in case anybody knows who she is or the name of her book (perhaps she put some verifiable reference to this in her book):

I’m tempted to say the book either was, or was related to, the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare.

She was a grey-haired, 45-ish woman who was espousing conservativism and claiming the importance of reading classics and Shakespeare to learn the conservative values and alledging that modern college education was either biased to the left in order to indoctrinate naive college students or just that it wans’t rigorous enough. I believe she was somewhat overweight, maybe 170 pounds and a little short.

Thanks in advance,

I can’t speak to that specific claim. However, both ends of the political spectrum pressure textbook publishers. Read the book The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch, and Google articles about it.

I also have no idea who the interviewee was. Ravitch doesn’t really fit your description, but you can Google pictures of her to see for yourself.

Finally, even if her claim was correct, I can’t imagine how such material is relevant to Shakespeare, accurate or not.

Great book.

I believe that the OP is probably thinking of Carrie Lukas, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism. She appeared on BookTV on September 9 last year, and you can view her talk online here.

She does not talk about textbooks as such, but does discuss how child psychologists such as Dr. Spock, over time, gradually removed material encouraging women to stay at home from their books for fear of offending women. This part of her speech appears about 30-40% of the way in (slide the marker).

As her source for this information, she references a book called Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us. You can find it on Amazon here. If you click on the “Search Inside” link, and search for the word Spock, you’ll find that the argument on pages 72-73 of the book discusses Benjamin Spock and his changing approach to day care in his work. It includes a quote, at the top of page 73, where Spock says that he “tossed” the sections of his work that advised women to stay home, and where he described doing so as a “cowardly thing.”

I offer no argument either way on the issue, but i think this might be what the OP is looking for.

I’ve read that the reason American textbooks in general are so bland is that they are sold by state, to each state’s board of education. The two biggest single buyers then are Texas and California, and no American textbook publisher will risk losing either one. Which means that what manages to stay in the textbooks is only what the members of neither the California BOE nor the Texas BOE find objectionable.

Doesn’t leave much, does it?

Sounds like there could be a market for a publisher who creates a blue and red version of each of their text books. Each state could pick the one they liked.

The Board of Education, or some other entity connected to them, generally has a list of books that are approved for use in schools. If you go from high school to high school in just about any state you’ll find that they don’t all use the exact same textbooks. Mississippi has the Mississippi State Textbook Board. This doesn’t preclude states like California or Texas being important though.

I don’t know if history books are bland because they’re sold by state. I suspect that they’d be bland even if sold on a federal level.


Textbooks often cost literally millions of dollars to develop. There is no incentive for creating duplicate versions when the least-offensive one will sell everywhere.

Yep. And Texas has the greatest influence here. As an explanation, i’ll cut and paste a post i made on this issue a few years back.

Now, it is certainly true that Texas and California have a disproportionate influence over the publication and adoption of textbooks in the United States. This is not merely because both are large states, however; it is because they are both large staes that have state-level textbook adoption procedures. In theory, New York could also exert considerable pressure on publishers, but New York is an “open territory” state, with textbooks adopted on a local city or county level.

Large cities like New York City and Chicago can have some influence on textbook publication, but not as much as large adoption states like Texas and Califronia. Furthermore, despite California’s larger population, Texas actually has a greater overall influence on the textbook industry, because state-level textbook adoption in Texas occurs at all grades, K-12. In California, by contrast, state-level adoptions are K-8, with high school textbook decisions made on a local level. Interestingly, state-level adoptions, which occur in twenty states, are predominant in the American south and south-west, while northern states tend to prefer a local adoption system.

What makes Texas even more interesting is that it has had, since the 1960s, a procedure whereby the citizens of Texas can oppose the adoption of particular textbooks. This procedure required a written complaint outlining the reasons for the opposition, and also offered complainants the opportunity to appear at a public hearing in front of the state’s textbook committee, at which the complaint would be reiterated and expanded, and at which the textbook publishers could attempt to rebut any charges brought against their books.

This sounds, at first blush, like a pretty good system: democracy in action, right? A key problem, however, was that there was no provision in the procedure for Texas citizens to appear or testify in support of textbooks that they felt should be on the curriculum, or that they felt were being unfairly challenged. This meant that the hearing involved only complainants and the textbook publishers, and the latter’s obvious financial interest in having their books adopted meant that they sometimes caved in and changed the text even if the criticism was unfair or unwarranted.

For years, the Texas Education Agency received letters from citizens arguing for a change in the procedure to allow for citizens to appear in support of textbooks. I’ve been through the TEA archives for the period, and have copies of letters arguing, for example, that the system of “[o]ne-sided testimony inevitably injures the cause of truth and education” and “effectively gag[s] many potential participants and prevent[s] other viewpoints that may represent the majority of citizens in the state from being expressed.” Finally, after years of such complaints, the state legislature amended the Texas Education Code in 1982 to allow petitions in support of textbooks by any citizen of Texas. Even then, however, Texans were only allowed to offer written support of a book against which petitions of complaint had been made, and were not allowed to make an oral defense of the books at the public hearing, thus leaving the textbook critics with the upper hand in determining the scope of the debate.

The ostensibly open and transparent procedures adopted in Texas have actually given a small number of vocal conservative interest groups the upper hand in determining what will and will not be taught in Texas schools.