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Choice of textbooks could soon be in hands of local school boards
FLORIDA -- The choice of textbooks could soon be in the hands of local school boards instead of the State Department of Education.
The Florida Senate approved the plan today.
Why many people still have concerns about the change.
The legislature gave local school boards the option to pick which text books to use last year.
Sen. Bill Montford/(D) Tallahassee: "Guess how many school districts elected to do that? Not one."
Now, legislation would force local control on the boards this year. The Department of Education currently provides a vetted list of materials for schools to use. It could lead to 67 different school boards using 67 different sets of text books. Senator Maria Sachs says the current system doesn't create confusion.
Sen. Maria Sachs/(D) Delray Beach: "If a student from Miami-Dade moves with family up to Pensacola, they know it's going to be seamless."
Some Senators were concerned that leaving textbook selection up to local school boards could begin a new chapter in censorship.
Senator Geraldine Thompson says the legislation could lead to different versions of history being taught.
Sen. Geraldine Thompson/(D) Orlando: "We have people who object to the fact that the nation of Islam might be in a text book, the work of Mark Twain might be in a textbook."
The Florida School Board Association calls the legislation a disaster waiting to happen.
Wayne Blanton/Florida School Board Association: "It's going to be very, very difficult to implement this bill on a statewide level and the legislature provided no funds to do it."
The bill's sponsor says the fees come from the publisher. He says local control is what parents want.
Sen. Alan Hays/(R) Lake County: "Most of the time people resist change, and once they get into it they find out 'you know what, this really isn't all that bad."
The plan would go into effect for the coming school year. Representative Matt Gaetz is sponsoring a similar bill in the house. That one would allow school districts to choose textbooks on their own or from a state list, and it would establish more criteria for school boards selecting their own materials.