A motion to approve textbooks recommended for adoption in Cumberland County schools failed a second time last week in a 3-6 vote, with board members asking for time to research a new option that is not on the state's adopted textbook list.
The local board of education must approve the textbooks to be used in local public schools. A list of books that have been certified by the state as meeting the required objectives and standards of each course is approved and those books are sent to individual school systems for further evaluation. The textbook adoption cycle is six years.
While the school system must adopt textbooks that will be used in schools, it does not commit the school system to purchase books. That is a separate issue board members said would be addressed in budget work sessions.
Textbooks recommended by teachers and administrators include American Legacy textbooks for grades kindergarten through three; Gibbs Smith textbooks for grades four and five; and the McGraw-Hill textbook offerings for grades six through eight.
High school books are listed by course, publisher and book name:
Ancient History, Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt, Ancient World History: Patterns of Interaction;
Economics/Personal Finance, Gengage, Economics and Personal FInance;
Psychology, McGraw Hill, Understanding Psychology;
Sociology, McGraw Hill, Sociology and You;
U.S. Government, Pearson, Magruder's American Government and Civics;
U.S. History, Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt, The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century;
Geography, Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt, Geography;
World History, McGraw Hill, World History and Geography: Modern Times;
AP U.S. History, Cengage, The American Pageant;
AP Psychology, Bedford, Myers Psychology for AP Psychology, 10th Edition;
AP Government, Cengage, American Government.
Josh Stone, 4th District representative, moved to approve the textbooks for adoption.
Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, asked about an alternative textbook company, Global Educational Ventures, LLC. He noted that, should the school system want to consider that company's textbooks, it would have to be on the adopted textbook list.
"It would have to be considered tonight if that is to be an option," Schlafer said.
Janet Graham, interim supervisor of K-12 instruction, said she had looked at the company's website but was not able to report on the content and how it relates to state standards.
"You can't get into their books or standards until they know that you're 'serious,'" Graham said. "I said I'm not committed to saying I'm serious about buying because I don't know anything about it. I have not seen any particulars and, certainly, our textbook adoption committees that we had, we haven't had an opportunity to reconvene those people to look at anything or to have a presentation."
Graham said the company offered to come Crossville for a presentation, but timing was an issue.
Gordon Davis, 5th District representative, asked if the state would allow the school system a one-year waiver in order to study the alternative textbooks. The state does allow for waivers, but there was not a provision for a one-year period of study, explained Rebecca Wood, assistant director of curriculum, instruction and accountability.
The state does allow school systems to choose textbooks that are not on the state's adopted textbook list; however, school systems wishing to use a non-approved textbook have to provide an explanation to the state of special circumstances, map the textbook to state standards, and establish contractual safeguards with the publisher to ensure continued availability and replacement. The request to use a non-approved textbook must be approved by the state department of education.
Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative, asked if Schlafer believed it likely the state would grant a request to use the alternative textbooks.
Schlafer replied, "They'll have some hoops to jump through. I think they would have a strong chance, but the question is how quickly."
The textbooks recommended for adoption were evaluated by a panel of teachers that included social studies teachers from each school. In addition, the textbooks were made available for the public to review and provide comments. Of the selected textbooks, books receiving comments were the selections for advanced placement psychology, high school world history, U.S. history, world geography and U.S. government. The responses on those books were described as a single packet of prepared comments.
Complaints against textbooks include providing an inaccurate knowledge of the nation's founding principles; bias towards communism and socialism; and bias towards teaching of the Muslim faith.
The motion to approve the textbook adoption failed, with Stone, 6th District Representative Vivian Hutson and 1st District Representative Charles Tollett voting in favor. Voting against were Schlafer, Davis, Janeway, 8th District Representative Jim Blalock, 3rd District Representative Sandy Brewer and 7th District Representative David Bowman.
The board will hold a work session in the coming weeks to discuss textbook adoption.