New textbook selection process now law

Textbook selection committees from across the state are now history in Florida. It will now be up to three appointed “experts” to decide what textbooks will be approved for use in our classrooms. I completely agree with the opinion of: it’s not a good thing.

With the stroke of the governor’s pen, Florida now has a Texas-style textbook adoption process. The commissioner of education, who is appointed by the governor, has been handed control of which textbooks and other materials will be used. The commissioner selects three state or national bureaucrats, called “subject matter experts,” who will serve as the review committee. Two of the experts will review books, and the third will act as a tiebreaker.

“I worry that this new legislation will take away checks and balances that keep the focus on student achievement, and it has the potential to allow political agendas to play a more active role in the process.

“I know the number of hours I personally dedicated to the process. I do not see how it is possible that a few people can accurately screen and select the materials given time limitations. I also do not know how it is possible that a few people can have absolute expertise in every course offered in the K-12 public school system.”

Like many others who have served on adoption committees, Griffin also worries that the new centralized system will face the same problems that Texas faces, including perpetual charges of political corruption, publishers’ favoritism and religious influence.

As a result of such problems, cultural battles stay in the headlines, all at a high cost to children’s education. Which version of the human narrative should be in textbooks, creation or evolution? What about the history of black slavery and its significance? How far should textbooks go in discussing Islam and other non-Christian religions? Which books teach math the “acceptable” way? Which books teach reading “correctly”? Who should decide? Which publishers should profit?

4 Responses to “New textbook selection process now law”

  1. Pierce R. Butler Says:

    Nine days ago, you first headlined this prospect, “Textbook selection process to change?

    And now, less than a week and a half later, here it is by gubernatorial decree!

    Amazing how fast The System can move when it’s going downhill. When, if ever, was the last time things changed so quickly to produce an improvement?

  2. Michael Suttkus, II Says:

    It boggles my mind that someone suggested, “Let’s stop having people who know what they’re doing review our textbooks”, and got a bunch of legislators and a governor to agree. Well, it should boggle my mind, but I guess it’s sadly typical these days.

  3. DSW Says:

    Having just served on apparently the LAST the science textbook selection committee, I am truly saddened the Legislature found time to gut the process in a truly cataclysmic 2011 session.

  4. David Murdock Says:

    Looks like kids will go on to post secondary education believing that men and dinosaurs lived together. If we don’t all vote next time we can expect more Evangelical Sharia law in Florida.