- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - The Kenai Peninsula school board has voted to retain a textbook that was criticized as historically biased.

The Kenai Peninsula Board of Education added an amendment to its approval Monday stating the textbook should be removed after a good substitute is found without causing disruptions. The decision to retain the book for now was made with a vote of 6 to 3.

Elementary education director Christine Ermold told the board during a work session earlier Monday that a review committee found coverage of gender, politics and ethnicity was balanced in the eighth grade social studies textbook, called “America: History of Our Nation, Beginnings through 1877.”

Ermold said the book does contain errors, as well as event misinterpretations. But she added that all books have errors and biases.

The book was brought to question by Peninsula resident Mary Toutonghi, who called it highly prejudiced.

Some board members said they had issues with the book. But in the end they figured it would be cost-prohibitive to find replacement material. Also, the Instructional Materials Review Committee determined that the book contained several biased statements that counteracted each other.

According to Ermold, an analysis of the book found partisan statements or those biased toward a party. She said pro-Republican statements made up 36 percent of references, while another 18 percent were deemed pro-Democratic and 45 percent were considered neutral.

“The book is generally unbiased, with some bias in either direction,” Ermold said.

Board member Penny Vadla, who voted against keeping the book, said she found it to be unfair.

Board member Dan Castimore said it would cost the school district roughly $80,000 to replace the book if it was removed. He said it would also take time to find replacement material and he didn’t want to disrupt the learning process.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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