Collier County Fights Over Textbook Bill

by Judy Palay, Collier County

legislation1Is it OK to read Harry Potter in school?  Collier County has a fight on its school board over the review of instructional materials in schools. Parents on both sides have organized.

There is a bill in the legislature that removes district control of instructional materials.  Judy Palay reports on the conflict and the reasons why many parents oppose SB 1018/HB 899 and others support it.

The Florida Citizens Alliance (FCA), a coalition of “real” conservatives, libertarians, and like-minded advocates want more control.  In their “Contract with Collier County, Florida, Voters,” the top priority of FCA is for the school board to audit instructional materials”.

Current law requires school boards to approve textbooks.  In our District, the Superintendent’s recommendations to the Board are informed by instructional materials selection committees with 1/3 parents and subject-matter experts, 1/3 teachers, and 1/3 administrators.  The FCA  has already gone on record requesting that parent representation increase to 1/2.  Any citizen will be able to challenge an assignment, video, or textbook reading that he or she finds objectionable.

In Collier County now, only parents with a child in public school can challenge materials.  If a challenger doesn’t agree with a District’s decision, s/he can appeal it to Circuit Court. Decisions about a Harry Potter assignment, for example, should be made in a school, not in Circuit Court. Imagine the waste of taxpayer money and educational resources. Collier parents reject FCA’s premise that instructional materials are immoral and inferior.

A Great Schools, Great Minds website designed to share diverse views in a respectful manner has been created. Collier parents organizing to reject FCA’s premise that instructional materials are immoral and inferior are urged to make their views known.  A Facebook site is also available for comment.

Many parents oppose SB 1018/HB 899 because:

  • If approved, the state would dictate the way instructional materials decisions are made in districts. These bills remove local control.

  • FCA wants to give parents control, which they hope to accomplish through legislative baby steps, from 1 parent on a committee (current) to 1/3 parents (proposed). Mr. Flaugh has already gone on record requesting that parent representation increase to 1/2.

  • Any citizen will be able to challenge an assignment, video, or textbook reading that he or she finds objectionable. In Collier County now, only parents with a child in public school can challenge materials.

  • If a challenger doesn’t agree with a District’s decision, she can appeal it to Circuit Court. Decisions about an assignment should be made in a school, not in Circuit Court. Imagine the waste of taxpayer money and educational resources.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Florida, Public Education.

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