Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawmakers reach compromise on textbooks

TALLAHASSEE — Florida school districts won't have to select their own textbooks next year.

Lawmakers had proposed shifting the responsibility from the state Department of Education to local school boards — an idea that came into being after Volusia County parents complained about a textbook they considered pro-Islamic.

But school boards opposed the idea.

"It was going to be extremely expensive and extremely time-consuming," said Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association. "And there were no extra dollars in the plan."

Lawmakers sided with the districts on Thursday.

Florida school districts already have the option to choose their own textbooks under a law passed last year. None do.

This year's bill (SB 846/HB 921) would have eliminated the state process for reviewing and recommending textbooks, and required districts to handle the process themselves.

The sponsors, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said local governments were best suited to select instructional materials.

But in a letter to lawmakers, Pasco School Board Chairwoman Alison Crumbley raised concerns that the new system would add politics to the textbook-selection process. She also said the measure would "threaten the constitutional requirement for a uniform system of free public schools."

The Senate approved the measure in a 21-19 vote.

The House, however, made significant changes to its version, which largely maintained the status quo. But it included a new requirement that school districts hold public hearings if parents complain.

House Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen, R-Miami, said the revised bill would "maintain the state's highly rigorous textbook-approval process, but ensure that districts choose the textbooks they want in their schools."

He added that the public hearings would hold districts accountable — and provide assurance that decisions about instructional materials were made locally, not in Tallahassee.

The House passed its language in a 84-33 vote, and sent it back to the Senate for consideration.

While describing the revisions to the upper chamber Thursday, Hays noted that the controversial language had been stripped.

"You can relax and now vote for the bill," Hays said.

The Senate passed the House language in a 31-4 vote.

Blanton, of the Florida School Boards Association, said school districts could "live with" the revised bill.

The Council on American Islamic Relations Florida was also pleased to see the changes.

"It appears that the state legislator is bending over backwards to accommodate the baseless complaints of hate groups, which have been discredited and rejected by the majority of Floridians," chief executive director Hassan Shibly said. "It is a relief that common sense prevailed and the worst portions of the bill have been stricken."

Contact Kathleen McGrory at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.

Lawmakers reach compromise on textbooks 05/01/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut

    Blogs

    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview

    Hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]