Sarasota Textbook Challenge Moves to the Florida Commissioner of Education

Just when you thought the challenges to the textbook World History: Patterns of Interaction had gone away, it rises again like a phoenix.

Aya Sewell, a local parent, and the Florida Security Council have both submitted requests to Dr. Eric J. Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education to conduct an investigation into the accuracy of World History. Florida Statute 1006.35 states in part:

(1) In addition to relying on statements of publishers or manufacturers of instructional materials, the commissioner may conduct or cause to be conducted an independent investigation to determine the accuracy of state-adopted instructional materials.

The Florida Security Council sent its request to the Commissioner after exhausting efforts at the Sarasota County School Board level to have it reviewed and corrected.

In the letter to Commissioner Smith the Florida Security Council states:

The Florida Security Council, at the behest of Ms. Sewell and other concerned parents and citizens submitted an appeal to the Sarasota County School Board’s decision to retain World History: Patterns of Interaction on the district approved list of instruction materials.

The appeal was denied by the Sarasota County School Board on July 20, 2010 in large part because the textbook was on the Florida Department of Education approved list and it “is a state problem” and not a local school board issue.

The Florida Security Council has done its part by going through the local process to have World History: Patterns of Interaction reviewed, corrected for inaccuracies and replaced during the 2011-2012 school year when this particular textbook is up for review. Again, that effort was thwarted primarily because the local school board looked at this as a state issue.

It is therefore in good faith and at the recommendation of the Sarasota County School Board that we come to you.

At a July 20, 2010 Sarasota County School Board appeal hearing each school board member recognized the textbook as flawed in one way or another but decided to retain the textbook. Chairwoman Shirley Brown admitted, “Some of the things we teach our students is biased.” Both Frank Kovach and Carolyn Zucker strongly recommended those concerned parents and citizens go the the state to resolve this textbook issue.

Well it looks like Aya and the Florida Security Council took that advice very seriously.

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