Key lawmaker seeks superintendent input on textbook flexibility
Florida Sen. Bill Montford, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Education Policy Committee, is carrying Gov. Rick Scott's bill (draft attached below) to offer school districts more flexibility in the way they select and purchase textbooks. Districts have advocated for less state control, and the governor and State Board of Education have decided to promote such changes.
The bill would, among other things, eliminate state adoption of textbooks, replacing that with a state evaluation of materials to ensure they align with standards. It also would end the requirement that districts purchase books from the state depository and free up districts to spend their instructional materials budgets as they deem appropriate.
Montford, who also heads the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, is in the process of consulting with superintendents to see just how much flexibility they really want in textbook purchasing. As FADSS chief lobbyist Joy Frank noted in a memo to members, "'Flexibility' is in the eye of the beholder, and as the issue has continued to be discussed, exactly what flexibility is being requested has been difficult to determine. In fact, many districts now see the benefits of a statewide adoption process."
The challenge, Frank wrote, "is to provide flexibility while ensuring that students continue to receive high quality, standards-aligned instructional materials in a cost effective, accountable and efficient manner."
She asked for additional input from superintendents by Monday. What ideas would you share on how to improve Florida's textbook process?