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. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 20: 'This is Camino' sums up pretty much anything and everything when you take this journey

    Travel

    Day 20: Puente Villarente to León: 12 km, 3 hours. Total for Days 1-20 = 465 km (289 miles)

  2. From the food editor: Three ways to curb your red meat cravings

    Cooking

    After a certain point in my life, it became a reliable joke at the house of one my best friends: Michelle loves meat.

  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 41-50

    Footballpreps

    Bulldog QB Charles Harrison III, (12) during the fourth quarter of the Zephyrhills at Nature Coast High School football game on Friday, 11/11/16.
  4. For Dunkirk veteran, movie brings back different memories

    Human Interest

    Movies like the World War II epic Dunkirk are popular escapes from reality.

    Fred Clutterbuck poses for a photo in front of the "Dunkirk" movie poster at the Cobb Theatre in Tyrone on Friday. Clutterback is a survivor of the Dunkirk evacuation. (EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times)
  5. Coquina Key Neighborhood Association to hold forum for District 6 council candidates

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association is inviting residents to meet the crowded field of candidates running for St. Petersburg's City Council District 6 at a forum Monday evening.

    International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement-affiliated City Council candidate Eritha "Akile" Cainion pauses between answers during a forum at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront earlier this month. The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association plans to hold another forum on Monday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Coquina Key Neighborhood Association Clubhouse, 3850 Pompano Drive SE. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]