September 2, 2014
For the Report on:
Middle East Curricula in Newton Public Schools
Between May 2014, and September 2014, Verity Educate analyzed 26 individual pieces of educational material used in Newton public high school curricula related to the Middle East. Parents and community members asked Verity Educate to assess the material for factual accuracy in response to a multi-year controversy. The 26 pieces include handouts, assignments, readings, and one video. All were provided to Verity Educate by students, parents, and community members in Newton.
Verity Educate’s final report was completed on September 2, 2014. 152 pages long, it addresses over 300 specific points of inaccuracy and inconsistency in the curricula. Some educational materials were found to be without error, but others were replete with factual inaccuracies and sometimes blatant biases.
Verity Educate’s primary finding is:
There has been a demonstrated lack of subject matter expertise in the creation and oversight of these Middle East curricula, and the vast majority of materials used do not originate from authoritative sources or are so altered as to have lost their authority.
Additional findings include:
- A high frequency of inaccurate and false information. Some materials present multiple, easily-refuted inaccuracies per page.
- Academic dishonesty in multiple pieces of material. This ranges from instances of plagiarism (omitting citations or attribution when copying material), to changing copied material without any indications, to deceptively editing material to alter its meaning.
- Material taken directly from a hate-filled, religious, proselytizing website. This website also prophesies about an Armageddon when all Jews will be murdered and the rest of the world will convert to Sunni Islam.
- Assignments that prejudice students in favor of the radical position of a one-state scenario in Israel/the West Bank/Gaza.
- A neo-Orientalist mistreatment of various Arab perspectives, particularly the infantilization of Arab peoples and countries in the twentieth century and elevation of the perspectives of the PLO and Hamas at the expense of the perspectives of Palestinian individuals.
- A regular presentation of bias in place of facts. There is no single, overarching bias. However, the curricula present repeated instances of bias against Israel, bias against the U.S. and its actions in the Middle East, and bias that sanitizes the ideology and actions of terrorists.
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