Sunday, October 22, 2017

Textbook Time: New Books Approved for Collier School District

collier school building

“naplesIt’s new textbook time for the Collier County School District.

The district will be purchasing new books for a slew of subjects and grades, and they’re giving parents a chance to do their homework first.

“Most books don’t come home,” Collier County School Board Vice Chair Erika Donalds said. “They stay at school most of the time these days. This is when they’re most seen by anyone.”

The board tentatively approved a slate of textbooks for use in classrooms next year on Tuesday. New materials are being posted on the school district’s website, allowing parents an opportunity to review the books before they reach the classroom.

“They’ve been up since March 17,” said Jennifer Kincaid, one of the district’s head of curriculum. “We wanted to give as much time as we possibly could.”

Changes in state law have meant changes to the book buying process for school districts around the state. Districts are required to publish proposed materials for a 30-day review period, during which parents can look over them and file any objections with the district if they see issues within any materials on accuracy or bias.

“We respect the process, we respect the citizens’ ability to provide input,” Donalds said. “Everyone has a bias. It’s okay. Everyone can review it with their background, their beliefs, their values can provide feedback and we as reasonable human beings who care about students can come together and find what the right way forward is based on that feedback.”

Nothing has been purchased yet, or will be until the review is complete and the board finalizes their materials list in a May meeting.

A committee of teachers, parents, administrators, and community members review offerings from textbook companies to see how they stack up against state and district standards. The recommended books are then brought forward for the board to approve.

“A person serving on a committee has developed skill or knowledge in the textbook’s content area based on education and experience,” Kincaid said. “We’re looking for people that have experience in the content area. In social studies, we were looking for people who had taught, or have worked in government positions, or have some experience that they could lend to the committee.”

“We weren’t looking for like-minded people, we were looking for people with like expertise.”

Parents who find an issue with a particular book or material are encouraged to file an objection with the district. Objections can be filed online through the district’s website.

But, district superintendent Kamela Patton says to be sure to read the district’s standards and goals first.

“A textbook company doesn’t write 50 different textbooks, they write one eighth grade textbook and then we go off our standards,” Patton said. “So you may have 352 pages, but we have standards for 210 of them. There may be things in a book that we don’t teach here in the state of Florida, so every word in every book, believe it or not may not actually be covered in our classrooms.”

For more information on proposed materials, to file an objection, or to request more information, visit Collier County Public Schools here.

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