Fla. Legislature Passes School Textbook Bill

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News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: May 1, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- School districts would have to give parents a chance to object to textbooks used in schools under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature.

The legislation now headed to Gov. Rick Scott would require districts to hold a public hearing if parents object. But it would not get rid of an existing state review of textbooks.

The Senate on Thursday voted 31-4 for the bill (SB 864).

Earlier this month the Senate narrowly approved a bill that would have eliminated state review of textbooks and would have forced districts to take over the job.

The House refused to go along with the proposal which was opposed by school boards and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

The bill was pushed this year amid complaints about the state's move to Common Core standards.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: April 28, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- State officials would still review textbooks used in classrooms under a bill passed by the Florida House.

The House on Monday refused to accept a Senate bill that would force school districts to take over the job of reviewing textbooks.

Instead, the House amended the Senate legislation (SB 864) so that school districts can decide whether to choose textbooks reviewed by the state or set up their own process.

The House bill would also require districts that choose to pick their own textbooks to hold a public hearing prior to adoption.

The revamped bill was approved by an 84-33 vote.

Democrats voting against the bill said it would place a burden on teachers.

The bills are being pushed amid complaints about the state's move to Common Core standards.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: April 11, 2014, 4:30pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's school districts will be required to review and select textbooks under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

The Senate on Friday voted 21-19 for the bill which was pushed in response to a backlash over national education standards called Common Core. The bill was also inspired by complaints over a high school world history textbook that some said gave too much attention to Islam.

School boards currently select textbooks from a list drawn up by the Florida Department of Education.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said the legislation was needed so that school board members will be accountable to parents and voters.

Opponents complained it would cost districts money to review textbooks. Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said she was worried the bill would lead to censorship.

News Release: Florida Senate

Tallahassee–The Florida Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability, chaired by Senator Jeremy Ring (D-Margate), today approved Senate Bill 864, Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education, which affirms local control of the review and adoption of instruction materials.

“Florida’s school boards have a constitutional duty to select textbooks and instructional materials for their students and classrooms,” said bill sponsor, Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla). “Senate Bill 864 affirms this local responsibility, ensures materials are appropriate for students, and encourages community participation in the process. Schools, teachers and parents, who understand the unique needs of their local classrooms, will get a seat at the table when textbooks and instructional materials are adopted.”

“By asserting local control, increasing transparency and streamlining a bureaucratic process, this legislation ensures public funds for instructional materials are allocated efficiently and effectively,” said Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers). “Florida’s classrooms will see textbooks and instructional materials tailored to the needs of students with the help of valuable input from parents.”
Senate Bill 864 affirms local control of instructional materials by repealing the statewide instructional materials review and adoption process and requiring a district school board or consortium of school districts to implement an instructional materials program. The legislation requires the local district school board to conduct an independent investigation to determine the accuracy of district-adopted instructional materials.

Senate Bill 864 also requires public notice of instructional materials adoption, the opportunity for public review and comment, and appointment of a district instructional materials review committee. District instructional materials review committees are permitted to combine with other district committees, which may reduce costs associated with the review and adoption of instructional materials for smaller school districts.

For more information, please visit www.FLSenate.gov.

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