Verity Educate Report

The Verity Educate Report on the Middle East Curricula in Newton Public Schools (the Report), along with the book and update by the Committee on Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), are perhaps the most clear and complete documents summarizing the issue of inaccurate and biased class material on Middle East history and religion used in Newton Public Schools high school history classes and many other schools in the U.S.

Verity Educate, an independent research organization, published the Report in September, 2014. Despite the passage of time, the Report is still relevant because many of the materials analyzed remain in use in Newton and elsewhere. (2021 update: Verity Educate ceased operations when its Executive Director, Ellen R. Wald, returned to academia and published a well-received book, Saudi, Inc. - The Arabia Kingdom's Pursuit of Profit and Power. As noted, however, even seven years later, many if not most of the materials remain in use).

The Report analyses 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 prehistory to the present day.

Verity Educate researched and wrote the Report independently. Although it is usually paid for its work, Very Educate published and distributed the Report free of charge. The Report was not commissioned by PENS or any other organization; it learned about the Newton class materials issue from an individual in the community. PENS' only connection with Verity Educate or the Report was providing a small amount of class material shortly before the Report was completed.

It is truly extraordinary for a small organization that relies on payment for services for its financial stability to voluntarily undertake a curriculum analysis taking several months and consisting, in final form, of over 150 pages. In addition, Dr. Wald spoke with a Newton Public Schools (NPS) official, PENS members, and other community leaders; and made presentations on the Report's content. We are truly grateful to Verity Educate and Dr. Wald for their dedication and hard work, which helped to bring the issue of inaccurate and biased high school material to light.

The Report, the materials analyzed in the Report, and summaries of the Report by Verity Educate and PENS are here.

The Report analyzes twenty-six documents used by Newton high school 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. Of the twenty-six documents examined, sixteen contained significant inaccuracies or biases which 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.

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.