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Portland Public Schools Will Stop Using History Book That Alarmed Parents

“The text contains historical inaccuracies, which may cause harm to students of color in particular,” Isaac Cardona said in his summary of the committee’s finding.

Portland Public Schools says it will no longer use a set of history books in its classrooms after a parent complained and WW reported on the books’ racist portrayals of Black people and Native Americans.

Danielle Blake, parent of a then-fifth grader at Capitol Hill Elementary, first complained about A History of US to her daughter’s teacher in 2019. WW first reported on her concerns earlier this spring (“Missing History,” March 3, 2021).

This month, a district administrator told Blake that a committee recommended the books no longer be used in PPS classrooms, and that all school principals be informed of that recommendation.

“The text contains historical inaccuracies, which may cause harm to students of color in particular,” Isaac Cardona said in his summary of the committee’s finding.

Blake says the decision took far too much time and effort to obtain, but she’s happy with the outcome. “Most significant to me in the reasons stated for their findings is the fact that they…acknowledge the harm it does, particularly to educators and students of color,” Blake says. “They are taking a risk by openly acknowledging this, and I see it as a meaningful step.”

A district spokesman says PPS will suggest to teachers supplemental texts better suited to middle-schoolers.

Read WW’s initial story about the history books, and what they contained.