A Textbook Editor’s Plea for Citizen Engagement

K-12 textbooks aren’t subject to critical race theory, but they are full of mistakes

Antonia Malchik
4 min readMar 8, 2022
Person standing in front of a brick wall looking up and holding a book over their face.
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

When I tell people I’m a freelance editor, they get interested. When I specify that I’m a freelance copy editor for K-12 textbook publishers, their eyes glaze over.

And it’s true, copy editing textbooks is a tedious job. There isn’t a lot of variety. (I wish the moral panic about critical race theory in K-12 curricula had any validity to it; at least then I’d have something else to think about while I’m checking for style alignment and missing commas. But alas, there is no such thing.)

But working in K-12 education at this granular level for the last 20+ years — for every large textbook publisher and many small ones — has given me invaluable insight into the structures and directions of education from kindergarten phonics to high school science.

Most people don’t know much about the publishing process of books themselves, nor is there any real need to, and even fewer probably know what goes into publishing textbooks. There are program developers and researchers, subject matter experts (SMEs) and project editors, writers and more editors, and then freelancers like me.



Antonia Malchik

Antonia Malchik is the author of A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time; walking, tech, community, and embodiment.