Critics who say a world history book used in Volusia high schools promotes Islam are gearing up to renew their opposition to it even as similar campaigns are spreading across Florida.
Daytona News Journal “We’re not going to drop the issue of the textbook,” said Tony Ledbetter, chairman of the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee and leader of the local protest. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s still of concern to a lot of parents.”
Ledbetter is recruiting volunteers to serve on a Textbook Action Committee that would take those concerns to the School Board. The board decided this month to keep using the “World History” book published by Prentice Hall despite complaints it promotes Islam and neglects Christianity and Judaism, which are covered in sixth grade, in accordance with Florida curriculum guidelines.
Supporters of the book say it provides information about Muslims’ beliefs without promoting their religion and encourages students to be tolerant of views different from their own.
Ledbetter plans to call a meeting in early January for the group to develop its strategy. He expects it to extend beyond textbooks to issues like the Common Core academic standards that are being implemented in Florida schools. Critics like Ledbetter say the standards represent an illegal federal intrusion into local education, while Common Core supporters say the standards will better prepare students for college and careers.
“We want to set up something so parents can be involved, go to School Board meetings and ask questions,” Ledbetter said. “If the School Board decides to go one direction and if parents and conservatives who would be on this committee want to go another way, we would express our views.”
Meanwhile, a Lake County man who organized the original textbook protest in Volusia last month plans to take that issue to a broader stage and leave the Volusia fight to Ledbetter and his supporters.
“I’m going to take it statewide. I just want a balanced curriculum,” said Rick Sarmiento. “It will take time; this isn’t going to be an easy battle.”
Volusia wasn’t the first Florida district where objections were raised to the use of the “World History” book. Palm Beach schools got the publisher to agree to several changes before its customized edition was printed, although none of them were in the chapter that’s been the target of local objections.
Brevard County schools have a committee reviewing the book to see if supplemental materials are needed. And the chairman of the Marion County Republican Party and other critics recently demanded the book be removed from classrooms there or supplemented with material on other religions.
Sarmiento said he’s working with Citizens for National Security, a South Florida organization that has taken credit for the Palm Beach revisions and a recent decision by Miami-Dade school officials to reject several textbooks the group said were pro-Islam for use in their classrooms.
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