We’ve been taking note of the politically correct follies of higher and lower education lately (see our posts here, here, here, and here)–and why not? It’s back-to-school time. So here’s another potshot: Seems that one major school textbook company, under pressure to depict “diversity” in its photo illustrations, keeps a wheelchair in its studio as one of its props. Daniel Golden writes in the Wall Street Journal::

“Able-bodied children selected through modeling agencies pose in the wheelchair for Houghton Mifflin’s elementary and secondary textbooks. If they’re the wrong size for the wheelchair, they’re outfitted with red or blue crutches, says photographer Angela Coppola, who often shoots for the publishing house.

“Ms. Coppola estimates that at least three-fourths of the children portrayed as disabled in Houghton Mifflin textbooks actually aren’t. ‘It’s extremely difficult to find a disabled kid who’s willing and able to model,’ she says. Houghton Mifflin, which acknowledges the practice, says it doesn’t keep such statistics.”

The reason for the wheelchair faux-tography? State textbook-purchasing offices all have diversity guidelines requiring certain percentages of members of ethnic and other minorities, including the disabled, to appear in textbook illustrations, or the books won’t be approved. Those guidelines translate into quotas as far as the publishers are concerned. And when you can’t find enough kids of a particular minority group, well, you fake it. It’s common practice, for example, for Mexican-American child-models to pretend to be Native Americans, because, well, the two groups look kind of similar And in order to meet the quotas, the publishers just leave out white people, even important historical figures::.

“Some textbooks shortchange depictions of important historical figures. As submitted to Texas for adoption in 2002, McGraw-Hill’s ‘The American Republic Since 1877’ included a profile and photo of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman pilot. But there was no mention or image of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. After a Texas activist who advocates for more patriotic textbooks complained, McGraw-Hill added a passage and photo about the Wrights. A company spokeswoman said the brothers had been left out inadvertently.”

In an outraged column, the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby had this to say (hat tip: Instapundit):

“{T]he ‘good’ intentions of the diversity crusaders cannot be separated from bad methods they resort to, whether those methods involve racial quotas in admissions and hiring, the assignment of schoolchildren on the basis of color, or photographic fakery that puts healthy kids in wheelchairs. By reducing ‘diversity’ to something as shallow and meaningless as appearance, they reinforce the most dehumanizing stereotypes of all — those that treat people first and foremost as members of racial, ethnic, or social groups. Far from acknowledging the genuine complexity and variety of human life, the diversity dogmatists deny it. Is it any wonder that their methods so often lead to unhappy and unhealthy results?”

Furthermoe, as Golden reports in the Journal, it’s tangled web the fake-diversity photographers weave when they put a non-disabled child-model into a wheelchair:

“The use of able-bodied models creates potential for an embarrassing gaffe — the same child posing as disabled in one chapter and running a race or playing football in another. To avoid such problems, Houghton Mifflin keeps track of faux-disabled models in its filing system.”