Five Ponds Press, a small publisher in Connecticut, is responsible for the books in question, which — among other errors — claimed that African Americans fought in large numbers for the south during the Civil War.
The publisher will donate the corrected textbooks this summer, according to a statement from Five Ponds Press publisher Lou Scolnik:
In order to address concerns that have been raised about two of our textbooks, OUR VIRGINIA and OUR AMERICA TO 1865, we are taking the unprecedented step of distributing free replacement copies of these books to the schools and districts that purchased First Edition copies.
In light of the discovery of the erroneous textbooks, Virginia’s Fairfax County school officials pulled “Our Virginia, Past and Present” from its classrooms, the Post reports.
While the publisher acknowledges the errors, he doesn’t think the media coverage has portrayed the situation accurately. Scolnik claims that many of the errors were corrected before the first editions were printed, and don’t appear in the books students are using now.
The errors were discovered after Virginia ordered a review of the books. Because Virginia’s Department of Education requires textbooks to fulfill specific “Standards of Learning” goals, many textbooks produced for a national market are unavailable to use — leaving Five Ponds Press in a unique situation of providing several books for the state.
Here is the Scolnik’s full statement:
In order to address concerns that have been raised about two of our textbooks, OUR VIRGINIA and OUR AMERICA TO 1865, we are taking the unprecedented step of distributing free replacement copies of these books to the schools and districts that purchased First Edition copies. We strive to provide high quality textbooks for Virginia students and are embarrassed that we failed to detect these mistakes during our production process. However, we hope that replacing the books will meet educators’ and students’ needs.
Although the books do regrettably contain a number of errors, we do not believe that media reports have accurately portrayed the situation. During our initial review, we have found that many of the issues identified by the Department of Education’s reviewers were corrected before we printed the First Editions and do not appear in the books students are currently using. Additionally, many of the reviewers took issue with the scope and content of the Virginia Standards of Learning, which our books adhere to, and are not technically “errors.” However, we are working diligently with the help of a historian from a prominent university in Virginia to respond to the Department of Education’s concerns and make the Second Editions error free. We are reviewing the reports prepared for the Department of Education and will reply to each point pursuant to the Department of Education’s request by January 21.
We are currently revising the online edition to correct these mistakes, and the replacement books will be available this summer. The first set of revisions will be available online by January 15, and we will continue to revise the online edition to reflect additional changes as we prepare to print the Second Edition.
Again, our deepest apologies for any trouble that our mistakes have caused. Much as we tailored our textbooks to meet the needs of the Virginia Standards of Learning, we hope to correct our mistakes in a way that meets everyone’s needs. We welcome any feedback, comments or suggestions that you have.
Lou Scolnik, Publisher
Five Ponds Press
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com