Testimony of Peggy M. venable :State Board of Education Testimony

I thank you for the opportunity to address the proposed changes in the schedule for adoption of the Social Studies textbooks.

First, I represent the members of Citizens for a Sound Economy who testified on the science textbooks. I appreciate that our members found errors and examples of theories being presented as facts and had other concerns about some of the textbooks. Textbook publishers have been responsive to our concerns and we look forward to working with you and others on the Social Studies textbooks.

I’d like to state what we as citizens have identified as our concerns.

  • First, we need more textbooks for review. This may not be part of the proposed amendment but if citizens cannot get a copy of a textbook, they have no opportunity to review it – and the shorter the timeframe, more textbooks should be available for public review. Currently, two textbooks in each regional service center is inadequate. Most service centers will check out one of the textbooks and keep one available onsite for review but with only 13 service centers, there is a need for more books at the centers and many of our members do not live near a service center.
  • Second, there are 236 textbooks up for consideration – these represent submissions for 12 years of required social studies textbooks. That further exacerbates the need for more textbooks and a longer timeframe for review.
  • Third, we do need a longer time for review of the textbooks. At one time prior to 1997 I believe citizens had four to six months to review textbooks. In the proposed timetable, we would have only from April 26 when the textbooks are available in the service centers until whenever the public hearing is in July – and an even shorter timeframe for those individuals who need to present their comments in writing.
  • Fourth, citizens also need opportunity to review the publishers’ responses to citizen comments. We need to know if the publishers accepted a recommendation, rejected it or how it was handled.
  • Then we need opportunity to convey our recommendations, based on the publishers’ responses, to our SBOE members.
  • I recognize the concerns Chairman Shore has that the SBOE have opportunity to review the final publishers’ text before making your final vote and that the vote by law appears to need to be taken before December 1 to allow ISD’s time to go through their selection process.

    With these concerns in mind, and knowing that the SBOE granted the publishers more time to allow for the events of 9/11 to be included in the appropriate textbooks, we ask that the timeframe for public review be extended.

    Rather than July 2002, I would recommend the public testimony be taken in September and the board vote in November….we are recommending not changing the timing for public comment.

    Thank you for the opportunity to voice my concerns on behalf of our membership and we look forward to working with you on the Social Studies textbook adoption.


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