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Disputing Textbooks: Misinformation

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This column series offers replies to what is published in the current “text books,” which are adopted by the State and school districts.

BY HAMILTON HANSON

During 2023, I attempted to be involved in the purchase of new CIVICS and US History textbooks. The FL Dept of Education has pronounced a process for such activity, beginning approximately 18 months before “Adopting” any textbooks for students in Florida. That in itself is a misnomer. Why not just say “Purchase” of textbooks for the benefit of the general public?
In a broad description, new books are purchased on a rotating basis for use in the schools for a six-year period. The 2023 process was for Social Studies teaching materials for the six school years beginning in August 2024. In the first step, the state invites the public to read the books, offer changes/clarifications, and inform DOE which final edited books are acceptable for use in our schools. Such invitations are not broadcast to the general public, but the invites more generally go to persons known to be connected with the education system – including activist groups with interest in the curricula.
When DOE is satisfied with the citizen readings/edits, they will then choose which publishers will be invited to provide a one-hour presentation within each district. The Districts then make arrangements for such presentations for “Adopting the textbooks” for the coming school period.
I was very gratified to be invited to attend the three days of Publisher presentations at Hernando School District offices. As we went through the motions, I began to realize that the textbooks were not of primary concern, but it was the attendant electronic “teaching materials” that were being chosen. I later learned that the “textbooks” – the subject on the website for the process – are no longer being used as primary teaching/instructional guidelines. They are now “resource” books and purchased in very limited quantities because the students no longer possess one of their own for homework assignments.
The true “charge” was the review of electronic “teaching materials,” which were voluminous – but I quickly learned that NO PERSON in the District had EVER read the textbooks being presented/adopted. When, at the Feb 20, 2024 School Board workshop, I learned that none of THEM had ever or would ever read the books, I was appalled. I consider this breach of responsibility to be deliberate misinformation being taught to our students.
To finish this process description, I discovered while attending the publisher presentations that the teachers KNEW that the process was to watch hours of electronic information and select two publisher materials packets in each curriculum subject from all that were presented. At the end of the third day, the votes from those in the room were accumulated on an electronic whiteboard (like the weather report or candidate vote counting). The “winner” publishers were notified to send XXX packages of materials to YYY schools for further evaluation.
From this exercise, one textbook title in each subject was chosen, district-wide for all classes in that subject.
Again, this was promoted on the District website as TEXTBOOK ADOPTION when no textbooks are used in our classrooms as primary teaching tools.

Mr. Hamilton may be reached at
[email protected]

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