Verity Educate Report

On September 5, 2014 the independent research organization Verity Educate published an extensive Report on material used in some Newton high school World History courses. World History is a two-year course sequence for 9th and 10th grade students, covering the periods prehistory to the present day.

Verity Educate researched and wrote the Report independently. PENS did not commission the Report and did not pay Verity Educate for its work. Our only contribution was providing a small amount of class material.

A copy of the Report, as well as the materials analyzed and summaries by Verity Educate and PENS, is here.

The Report analyzes twenty-six documents used by World History students. Although some of the material was accurate and unbiased, much of it was not. Examples of significant errors and biases include deceptively edited versions of the Hamas Covenant and Palestinian Authority Charter, a text derived from a 1960's-era public relations brochure for a Saudi Arabian oil company, extremist viewpoints described as mainstream, an 'explanation' of a U.N. resolution which reverses its meaning, and more.

Not all the material analyzed was inaccurate or biased. However, of the twenty-six document examined, sixteen contained significant inaccuracies or biases which in our opinion renders them unsuitable for student use.

Verity Educate is non-political and is not associated with any other organization. It judges material solely on its educational accuracy, not on the views of the author. For example, the Report notes that a book by John L. Esposito, "Islam: The Straight Path" is "well accepted in the scholarly community" and that despite the author's support of boycotts against Israeli academics and defense of radical Islamist theory, the book does not reflect these views.

The Report's Executive Summary is below. PENS wrote an item-by-item summary of the Report's findings; it is available, along with the Report and the materials it analyses, here.

Text Box

Executive Summary

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 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 instead of facts. There is no single, overarching bias. However, the curricula presents repeated instances of bias against Israel, bias against the United States and its actions in the Middle East, and bias that sanitizes the ideology and actions of terrorists.