Portions of an 11th grade science textbook in California had been lifted directly from comments submitted by the American Chemistry Council that were very favorable to the Plastics Industry, according to a new report by California Watch. While this is hardly new or unusual (private industry has always been a major influence on curricula and textbooks), what is unusual is that the state of California has stepped in to fix the biased chapter.
Last year, a California Watch investigation found that whole sections of the 11th-grade teachers’ edition guide had been copied almost exactly from comments submitted by the American Chemistry Council. Soon after, the head of state schools Tom Torlakson issued a statement saying his office would work with CalEPA to examine and review the material.
The new chapter fixes problems with a section that was originally titled, “The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags.” Overall it incorporates 33 changes, including more recent and accurate recycling statistics and other changes to the text. One example from the original version suggested that Californians recycled their plastic bags at a rate of 12%, a number high enough that it should have raised eyebrows. The new version provides state estimates that are closer to 3%.