Mistake Or Malfeasance? Doesn’t Matter; This Textbook Gets The 2nd Amendment Dead Wrong


It could be the innocent product of overzealous editing, or it could be intentional. Either way, a high school textbook supplement has a lot of parents upset for what it’s telling students about the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

The Denton, Texas, Unified School District adopted the book, United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, as a supplement to a larger course of study for students aiming to ace the AP U.S. History test to jump-start their college careers.

School officials in Texas say it’s meant to serve as a supplemental guide to assist more thorough study of the Constitution, but the book has drawn anger from some parents who believe it’s a subversive effort to rewrite what the Constitutional framers originally wrote.

The Constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

And now the book:

Second Amendment: The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.

The paperback version sells for about $37 on Amazon. Until word of the Bill of Rights butchering began circulating among conservative Internet sites this week, it had received almost universal praise from student reviewers throughout the country who’d used it to anticipate the questions they’d face on the AP U.S. History exam.

But the book’s user rating, which appears to have hovered around four stars (out of five), has taken a dive down to two stars just in the past week, after all the publicity began driving angry Constitutionalists to the site.

For some perspective, though, here’s the (hastily written?) opinion of one review from back in 2010, offered by a customer who identifies as an AP teacher (“DBQ” stands for “Document-Based Question”):

The book leaves out a subtantial maount of essential information, and is downright deceptively bias in many areas of national politics. (note the background and inclination of the authors on the inside flap). As the book is highly slanted politically throughout and SELECTIVELY avoids facts that are essential to FULLY answering the DBQs, I would not at all recommend this book to any student who is preparing dilligently for the exam. The political cartoons in this book were especially repulsive in their political slant as well as deceptions for the student. Unless most of the AP readers are teachers/profs. from Boulder Colorado, or Santa Cruz California, the student will fail to be able to provide a well rounded and informed answer on his DBQs which will result in a lowered overall score. This brief readers digest (TIME/NEWSWEEK) version of history should only be used along with another tome that covers both partisan sides of the American political and social spectrum over the past 300 years. Caveat emptor with this one folks!

Youth-slant political website PolicyMic makes the case — perhaps inadvertently — for the argument that the book simply isn’t written by people who understand any portion of the Bill of Rights. PolicyMic’s Saad Asad writes:

Students are taught the complete version in classes, and the supplemental textbook is only used as a quick guide to prepare before the AP exam. As someone who once took these classes, I can attest to the inaccuracy of many of these supplemental textbooks, which are only meant to be review guides.

Although the Second Amendment summary is receiving a lot of criticism, the authors also erroneously summarized the Third Amendment by stating: “The people cannot be required to quarter (house) soldiers during peacetime.” This skims over the clause that explicitly forbids quartering during times of war. In fact, the history of the Third Amendment is explicitly rooted in protesting the British quartering of soldiers in wartime. It would be silly to assume there is some ideological bias behind this summary of quartering.

Whether intentional or just dumb, it’s time for this mangled reimagining of the 2nd Amendment, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, to end. There’s already enough agenda-driven misinformation being foisted on young people, as ever-zealous progressives carry on their tireless campaign to obscure the plain language of our Constitution.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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