Cindy Rose runs a Facebook page called Eye on the Board. From the Eye on the Board Facebook page “All children deserve an education free from political and social agendas. History is slowly being erased from our textbooks and replaced with social beliefs. If you believe the federal and state governments have too much power in what is going on in your school, join us in our cause to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education, minimize the authority of state departments of education and put power back into the hands of parents and the local school boards ‘We The Parents’ elected. Their future should be in the hands of the people who know them best, not government bureaucracies.”
We received this information from her recently. What she is doing in her home school district exemplifies what all conservatives should be doing in their home districts. When something is wrong you do not shrug shoulders and ignore it, you get involved and you don’t let up.
In March of 2011 I began the process of having a liberally biased textbook, Social Studies Alive! Our Community and Beyond, removed from our third grade classrooms in Frederick County, Maryland (FCPS).
Robert McCartney, liberal writer for the Washington Post also did an article on it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/frederick-shouldnt-use-slanted-3rd-grade-textbook–even-if-it-leans-same-way-i-do/2011/07/06/gIQAJVpC1H_story.html
Per procedure, I sent my complaint to the superintendent who recommended against convening a “reconsideration committee”. I appealed her decision but before it could be heard I learned if five people complain, the book automatically goes before a reconsideration committee. I got four others to join me so in July of 2011 the process for creating a Textbook Reconsideration Committee (Committee) began.
Because of the way the process and policies for this are put in place there was no time frame for the committee to make it’s decision. It wasn’t until December 9, 2011 that I even spoke to the committee regarding this issue. They gave me thirty minutes to speak and ask questions, however, they extended the time to almost an hour.
It wasn’t until March 1, 2012 that the Committee made a decision. That decision was in our favor: “Having studied the material, determined the complainant’s main concerns, and discussed the instructional process with teachers [1 teacher], the committee concluded the main question at issue is Should this book be removed from FCPS third grade classrooms? As the text is up for review and replacement in the next budget cycle, and there may be more books appropriate to the third grade to choose from today than were in 2004, the committee recommends that the book be maintained until replacement in the regular cycle can be implemented. We encourage Frederick County Public Schools to focus resources as soon as possible to facilitate the replacement with a newer text.”
The superintendent agreed with the recommendation, however, elected to keep the book until a replacement could be found, which could be as long as the 2014-15 school term: “I do not wish to commit the school system to having a replacement textbook by 2014-15. There are several unknown factors which could impact this timeline, including budgetary constraints, the development of the new state resources for the Common Core implementation and the feasibility of online resources versus textbooks.”
FCPS has a companion textbook by Houghton Mifflin. During the June 22, 2011 Board of Education public meeting on this issue, curriculum specialist James Gray gave a presentation. During that presentation Mr. Gray pointed to the companion text, 13 other FCPS resources as well as 8 years of teacher accumulated resources. He was asked directly by one of our board members if third grade social studies could be taught without the book. He said yes.
Upon hearing the superintendents recommendation and being aware of funding we offered a compromise. For the students who will be using this book until a replacement is found send the book home with each student with a note to the parent informing them this book has been recommended for removal. The notice would also ask them to read the book and sign the letter stating whether you did or did not want your child to use the text. Unless you were around when the book was adopted in 2004 you never saw the book, these books do not go home. We wanted parents to be aware and to decide for themselves.
This compromise was rejected. We appealed the superintendent’s recommendation and currently have a “closed hearing” scheduled for August 6, 2012. We object to the closed hearing and believe it should be open to the public. We further believe it is a violation of the Maryland Open Meetings Act. There is nothing in this hearing that concerns personnel, pupils nor pupil grades. FCPS cannot close a meeting because it doesn’t want the publicity or negative outcries from the community.
We are also concerned that the lawyer for the school system asked a board member who is known to support the book removal to recuse herself, however, has not asked the known supporter of keeping it to recuse herself. We are also concerned that this request was sent directly to the board member and not the board’s counsel of record.
So here we are, a year and a half later with children still being taught from this book and no resolution. If it takes this long for a book with 163 pages written, in my opinion, below grade level, (including table of content, maps, glossary, index and filled with pictures) how long would it take to reconsider a high school book on government?
I shudder to think what happens when local boards lose their control and we have to complain directly to the state or federal government.