Picture This: American Diversity

Anyone with school-age kids knows that text books aren’t what they used to be. Mom, Dad, Dick, Jane, Spot and Puff have gone the way of the Nelsons, Andersons, Cleavers and Huxtables. Not a relevant enough reflection of the demographics – and politics — of diversity.

As a result, pictures have never been more of a priority.

According to New York University professor Diane Ravitch, author of “The Language Police,” there is “more textbook space devoted to photos, illustrations and graphics than there’s ever been, but frequently they have nothing to do with the lesson.

“They’re just there for political reasons,” she recently told the Wall Street Journal, “to show diversity and meet a quota of the right number of women, minorities and the disabled.”

The WSJ cited the McGraw-Hill Company’s 2004 guidelines for elementary and high school texts: 40 per cent of people depicted should be white, 30 per cent Hispanic, 20 per cent African-American, 7 per cent Asian and 3 per cent Native American. Federal estimates indicate non-Hispanic whites made up 67.4 per cent of the U.S. population and 60 per cent of the school-age population. Close enough.

But a closer look at the McGraw-Hill guidelines yields an agenda beyond numbers. There are specific directives for ethnic and racial portrayals. Such that this is what political correctness on steroids surely looks like. One example: Asians should not be portrayed “with glasses, bowl-shaped haircuts, or as intellectuals.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

But how refreshing to have read that story about the Vietnamese couple who bought a Beef O’Brady’s in St. Petersburg. Thomas and Grace Tran were both refugees who arrived in America as kids. Now they are welcome reminders that a land of opportunity still awaits those who value education and work ethic and for whom English fluency and societal assimilation were goals – not cultural insults.

And, yes, Thomas Tran does wear glasses – but Grace doesn’t.

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