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Task-Force Update - Islam-biased K-12 public-school textbooks in Florida

 

On Thursday August 11, 2011 CFNS filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), the State of Florida and its Governor, to repeal an ethically questionable last-minute change in the State law excluding private citizens from the process of selecting Florida's K-12 textbooks.


Dr. William Saxton, CFNS Chairman, (left) and Atty. Barry Silver confer on lawsuit details.

We made the decision to take this step because our landmark research on Islam-slanted textbooks caused the FDOE to double-down on their egregiously derelict oversight of these flawed textbooks by now eliminating any lay citizens from the adoption (selection) process. Several Florida State Legislators resorted to an ethically questionable last-minute change in the law to try excluding us from the process for selecting Florida's K-12 textbooks, ie. making the whole selection process exclusively in-house.


CFNS files textbooks lawsuit at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida.

It all started with CFNS's initial report on its 14-month research into textbooks that enhance Islam while demeaning Christianity and Judaism. Based upon it, our associated statewide Textbook Action Teams mounted a huge campaign to include lay citizens in the textbook adoption process mandated by the existing law, and to be implemented by the FDOE beginning on April 15, 2011. The FDOE was set to begin selecting the history and geography textbooks to be used for the next six years; and, we had nominated close to thirty highly qualified people to be on the State Instructional Materials Committee (SIMC) for that purpose. Then, seeing our commitment to this issue, and fearing our encroachment on its turf, the FDOE got the law changed to exclude us - and any outsider citizens - from the adoption procedure. Three reviewers, hand-picked by the Commissioner of Education - who himself is appointed by the FDOE - will now pick the textbooks.

As a result, Florida's citizens have been totally disenfranchised from having any say in the selection of their children's school books! The FDOE did this very quietly on May 6, 2011 in a last-minute desperation move by getting new adoption-process language surreptitiously inserted into a so-called "conforming" budget bill - just three hours before the Florida legislature adjourned for this past session. No notice...no debate! It was rubber-stamp passed and sent to the Governor for his approval.


Front, from left, Atty. Silver, Dr. Saxton, and Sheri Krass, Chairman of the CFNS-created statewide Textbook Action Team (TAT). Back, from left, Dr. Alison Rampersad, TAT Deputy Chairman, and Nicholas Martin, CFNS's Director of Planning and Development.

We then mounted mail and telephone campaigns to get the Governor to line-item veto the restrictive language in the new bill. Although we have reason to believe that Governor Scott was in our corner on this issue, he signed the bill anyway, which is why he has also been named as a defendant in our lawsuit. His alleged reason for not executing a line-item veto was that it was not doable [in this instance] because all the budget funding would have gone out the window. The FDOE obviously knew in advance that he had little choice. That's why they inappropriately and secretly placed this exclusionary verbiage into a budget bill! CFNS's battle with the state to eliminate Islam-biased textbooks from Florida schools continues, but on a new battlefield!

In another arena, we are making huge progress at the county school-district level. 50% of the funds allocated to local school districts for instructional materials may be spent on textbooks selected by them. Whereas the majority of that money usually goes to the state-adopted textbooks – which is why we are mainly focused on the state process - county school boards do have some discretion in what their students read. Statewide Textbook Action Teams, (TATs), created by CFNS and an integral part of our textbooks efforts, already have positive dialogue on this issue underway with over a dozen of these local school districts and boards.

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