Editorial: More wisdom from state board — Common sense rules in decision about textbooks in Alabama
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Jan 27, 2014 | 1800 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice calls for a vote on eliminating the state's high school graduation exam during a meeting of the State School Board in Montgomery, Ala., Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. Bice says the test is no longer aligned with Alabama's academic standards for students. He says the requirement for graduating now is passing all required courses. Public schools will be giving the ACT college entrance exam to all 11th graders. The board voted to eliminate the exam. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press
State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice calls for a vote on eliminating the state's high school graduation exam during a meeting of the State School Board in Montgomery, Ala., Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. Bice says the test is no longer aligned with Alabama's academic standards for students. He says the requirement for graduating now is passing all required courses. Public schools will be giving the ACT college entrance exam to all 11th graders. The board voted to eliminate the exam. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press
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Textbook adoptions for public schools are lightning rods for groups that feel subversive elements are trying to indoctrinate our young through the textbooks they read.

Textbook battles have been fought over such varied subjects as how to interpret the Civil War (or War Between the States, as one set of activists put it) and how to teach the origins of man (or creationism versus evolution). In these struggles, both sides are passionate in their positions and do not take defeat lightly. As a consequence, textbook publishers, seeking access to large markets, often water-down the subject to make them more acceptable to their target audience.

Last week, this page took note of the common-sense decisions the Alabama State Board of Education made regarding the Common Core standards. At approximately the same time, the school board made another common-sense decision that should not be ignored.

In 2013, the board was treated to a new textbook charge when “concerned citizens” asked that some books be removed from the list of approved social studies texts because they have a pro-Islamic bias and do not give sufficient credit to the role Christianity has played in history and society.

Let’s be practical. What textbook publisher wanting to make a profit would try to sell a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian textbook to Alabama? If from nothing other than a business perspective, it makes no sense.

Because making sense is fast becoming the hallmark of this board, by a vote 5-2 it approved the list of some 500 social studies textbooks that may be used in public schools. The list included the books that had been challenged. The only book removed from the list was taken off because, according to State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice, it was “an unintentional duplicate.”

It’s not surprising that board members Betty Peters of Kinsey and Stephanie Bell of Montgomery opposed the decision. When these conspiracy-spotting naysayers tried to amend the list to remove the books they did not like, their amendment was voted down.

So, for the second time in a few weeks, common sense won out over ideological hysteria on the Alabama State Board of Education.

Well done.
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