Truth in Textbooks – Training Recap + Future Plans

by TTT Coalition on August 26, 2017

2016 – 2017 TNT Recap – Lots of Training!

 

Link to latest TNT Info Brochure

 

Truth in Textbooks continues to conduct training sessions for interested volunteers.  In 2016 TNT conducted three training classes and so far in 2017 two classes have been conducted.  Our current class of 40+ volunteers will bring our total of trained social studies textbook reviewers to nearly 200 trained volunteers.  This will bring TNT to nearly 1/2 way to our goal of 300-500 reviewers.  Class 2017-B will conclude their 3-month training session in October 2017.

North Carolina Truth in Textbook Project – Phase 1

Beginning in 2016 TNT began training residents of NC and other states for the purpose of reviewing NC social studies textbooks.  TNT representatives asked NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) bureaucrats for timeline and procedures for the adoption process.  The goal was to review the textbooks before they were selected for final adoption. One would think bureaucrats would appreciate public involvement but silence and obfuscation was the tool used to thwart TNT from reviewing the textbooks in advance.

DPI informed NC TNT volunteers of the final selection and immediately the TNT team began revieLt Gov staff memberwing eight of the textbooks.  As a result of hundreds of hours of reviewing the textbooks by four-person teams a total of 603 errors were found in the textbooks.  Those results were shared with representatives from the Lt Governor and Department of Public Instruction’s office.

Fortunately,NC DPI staff NC Lt. Governor Dan Forest (chairs the SBOE) and newly elected Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson are working to restore more public input to parents and concerned citizens and away from the educational bureaucrats.  We applaud their positive reception of the initial report presented to their staffs. TNT is hopeful further discussions will occur and more social studies textbooks will be reviewed in the near future.

One of the publishers allowed to sell books in NC was Worldview publishers.  What makes this decision especially egregious was in the course of the Texas review in 2014, Worldview textbooks were deemed to be of such low quality that the State Board of Education removed them from consideration for approval!  Worldview’s refusal to address the many errors found in their textbooks by TNT was a major contributing cause to not just their initial rejection for “approved status” by the Texas SBOE but upon Worldview’s appeal several months later the SBOE refusal to change their original decision.

Imagine if you could purchase a drug in North Carolina for your child that was denied approval in Texas for distribution because of the harm it would do to children. How much public outrage parents would occur over that decision?  Yet when it comes to what is put in to the minds of our children via textbooks, a discredited publisher is allowed to sell their wares.

TNT submitted suggestions on where to go from here. TNT is hopeful that pending settlement of several internal issues related to the NC State Board of Education and the Lt Governor’s office are resolved that these suggestions will be implemented and the next phase of correcting the textbooks will occur.  This link is to an executive summary of some of the 603 errors found.

Truth in Textbooks Comes to California

California has not conducted social studies textbooks/instructional materials selection for many years due to budgetary constraints.  Beginning in 2015 they laid out a plan to review, select and approve of new materials for K-8.  For grades 9-12, the State Board of Education gives authority to the local school districts to choose any publisher for social studies topics.

The first step in the process was for California to re-write the California “Frameworks”.  It was very late in the process (April 2016) when TNT was asked to get involved. TNT used our quick reaction team of volunteers/experts and made suggestions/corrections to nearly every grade level, all within a matter of 3 weeks of first being notified. This illustrates one of TNT’s strengths…the ability to have trained reviewers who can be assembled quickly who can do quality work.  The top 20 recommended changes can be found at this link.

TNT Starts Reviewing California K-8 Textbooks – May 2017

Beginning on May 12, 2017 TNT teams began reviewing CA social studies textbooks.  In four-week cycles reviewers working in 4-person teams began reviewing the textbooks.   The first seven were completed and submitted in early July to the State Board of Education.  Since then another 17 books have been reviewed and are being submitted for consideration for those changes to be accepted.

California volunteers will be going to Sacramento to testify on their recommendations with the hope that the changes will be made.  TNT continues to review textbooks through November 2017 and hopes to have a total of close to 40 instructional materials reviewed.  Efforts to reach individual school districts with the ratings that will be given to the textbooks in order to influence the purchase of the best books and avoidance of the worse books are being put in place.

TNT Teams with Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA)

In May 2017 TNT was contacted by FLCA to assist in reviewing social studies textbooks in several FL school districts for potential errors.  The ability to quickly respond to producing quality reviews of both textbooks and “Weekly Readers” by our trained reviewers sparked the idea of marshalling more Florida residents for the next training class that began in August 2017.

One of FLCA recent successes is the passage of SB 989 that requires local school districts to put in place processes and procedures for making it more transparent on the materials used in classroom and the selection process for those materials.  TNT applauds and endorses those efforts and encourages other states to adopt similar legislation.

FLCA has several missions but one of its major ones is focused on education and the instructional materials found in classrooms. Their recruiting efforts resulted in over 40 Floridians enrolling in the latest TNT class. As stated previously Class 2107-B graduates in October 2017.

TNT Future Plans – Florida and 2018 Training Dates

Beginning in 2018 TNT will focus on social studies textbooks in Florida.  Florida Department of Education (FDE) is one of 22 states that does a centralized selection process of acceptable books for their 67 school districts.  They recently completed that process but the individual school districts are just now beginning the process for which books to choose from the list of approved instructional materials.

TNT will conduct reviews of many of those textbooks.  It is expected because of the previous work by TNT reviewers, many of these textbooks will have been reviewed and will have been rated as either Good, Acceptable, Poor or Unacceptable.  A report card, similar to the TTT Report Card that was prepared for Texas schools, will be completed and shared by FLCA activists in their local community.

TNT will be conducting new training classes in 2018.  If you are interested in receiving more information on this opportunity, simply write to tnt.textbooks@gmail.com and in the “Subject Line” simply say Seeking More Information on TNT Training Classes.

All training is done from your home via computer and via conference calls.

Necessary requirements to participate in the training:

  1. Internet access
  2. Long distance phone access for conference calls (all calls are recorded and can be listened to via the computer if you don’t have long distance service)
  3. Computer – Tablets are less than optimum but possible; smart phone option is not possible
  4. Ability to type via Microsoft Word on a PC or Apple or comparable word processing program that is readable by Microsoft Word.
  5. Ability to find, locate and upload pictures/files from your computer and download pictures/files from emails sent to you and know where they are stored.

2018 Training Dates

1st week of each of these months

Jan Class 2018A

April Class 2018B

July Class 2018C

October Class 2018 D

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