The Great Flat Expanse of the Whitewashed American Education

Ever wonder who the hell it is who votes for George Bush (neo-cons and evangelicals aside)? How about an American public raised on primary school textbooks produced by a near-monopoly of major publishers, held in thrall by the twin constraints of statewide curriculum standardisation and the pressure of lobby groups touting interests ranging from we'll-tell-you-how-to-do-your-free-thinkin' Californian political correctness to down-home Texan family values. Crank the handle and what comes out the other end? Textbooks devoted to "moral uplift and the building of self-esteem […] at the expense of critical thinking" (Paula Marantz Cohen, "Make mine a vixen", from the TLS; it's a review of The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch).