Third grade class takes action after finding error in workbook

3rd graders spot workbook error

Last Updated Jun 18, 2019 10:00 PM EDT

Oneonta, N.Y.— At Valley View Elementary School in Oneonta, New York, a third grade class was feeling more than a little frustrated when they discovered a problem in a math workbook. It said "Christopher Columbus landed in America." "America," they said, refers to what is now the United States of America.

"They immediately protested because they knew that Columbus didn't land in the United States of America, he landed in the Caribbean islands," said teacher Ken Sider.

So they voted to send a letter to the publisher asking that the wording be changed.

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Third graders at Valleyview Elementary School in Oneonta, New York, found an error in their math workbook. CBS News

"This was student-led. This was entirely their idea," Sider said.

Over several months, they sent three letters but got only form letters in return. They felt they were being ignored because they were kids.

But they are kids who refused to give up. They created a petition online and got 1,285 signatures. That got publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's attention, which soon informed them that the next edition of the textbook would say "Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean."

The company commended the students for their critical thinking and the students were elated.

"I think if you're a kid, just keep pushing to do something incredible," said Landon, a third grader. "If it's hard, just keep pushing, keep pushing and if somebody says you can't do it, just prove them wrong."

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.