Collier County: the epicenter of textbook calamity

Seal_of_Collier_County,_FloridaFresh off their success in the Florida legislature where their instructional materials bill passed, the Florida Citizens’ Alliance is now causing migraine headaches on their home turf: Group sues Collier County schools over textbook selection

Three parents sued the Collier County School Board on Wednesday over new textbooks slated for public classrooms next fall.

Along with factual errors, flaws and omissions, the parents said in the court filing, the board selects books and reviews the materials “behind closed doors to the exclusion of the public.”


They have identified 222 words and passages they think are problematic in the incoming textbooks, from upper-level law and history books to elementary social studies materials.

School Board attorneys declined to comment because they haven’t had time to read through the lawsuit.

But board member Eric Carter said most of the issues parents have flagged are either easily vetted or inherently subjective.

He cited one complaint a parent made, arguing that women did not fight in the Revolutionary War. Carter quickly referred to the night of Nov. 16, 1776, when Margaret Corbin took a bullet to the shoulder while she was stuffing cannons for colonial residents.

“That took three minutes on Google,” he said.

There’s also a story on a Collier TV station: Parents suing Collier school board over textbook purchases

A handful of parents will be given 10 minutes each to explain what they found wrong with each book at Thursday’s special school board hearing, but they said that’s not enough time.

“To give a parent who spent 20 hours with a textbook finding these kinds of problems 10 minutes to educate our school board members on it is just a travesty,” [Florida Citizens’ Alliance’s Keith] Flaugh said.

But there’s a voice of reason in the letters to the editor section of the newspaper:

Textbooks have already been scrutinized and approved for adoption by subject level experts at the state Department of Education before they are reviewed locally. Local level review committees also are selected on the basis of their knowledge and experience in the subject area that they are reviewing.

After months of work, the selected texts are now being challenged at the local level because the review committees did not have the “correct” political makeup. Seven “concerned citizens” with ties to ultra-conservative organizations founded by School Board member Erika Donalds are now moving their objections to a public hearing at a special board meeting Thursday.

All of these “concerned citizens” had the opportunity to volunteer their time to serve as members of the review committees of the textbooks that they object to, but none of them submitted a corresponding application.

These citizens would be better off spending their time volunteering in classrooms than spending their time analyzing the members of the review committees and comparing them with voting records. Is that the mentality we want in our school district?

You can see the long list of complaints the Alliance has about the textbooks here. They stuck with law and U.S. history books, so there are no mentions of evolution or climate change … this time.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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2 Responses to Collier County: the epicenter of textbook calamity

  1. Pierce R. Butler says:

    They stuck with law and U.S. history books…

    Betcha they scream even louder if they find any hint of fact-based sex education in Collier County!

  2. Pierce R. Butler says:

    I just read the bottom two of the list of complaints provided in the last link of this post.

    Ye gads.

    The reviewers come across as utterly inadequate to the task, from the spelling and punctuation errors in the last item listed to the total ineptitude of the penultimate article. The latter, formatted based on a chart template provided to the reviewer, doesn’t even fill in the parts labeled for title, author, etc, so the reader can’t tell which book merits such eloquent gripes as:

    Pages x=xxii
    13 sections based on time periods
    B [short for “Bias”]
    Organization is linear; titles of the time periods define the focus for students

    Why does reviewer “Mogil” think it biased to find a history text organized by time periods?

    If I had more time tonight, I’d read more – but then I’d probably start drinking…

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