A bill making its way through the Florida legislature requiring local school districts to review textbooks used in classrooms is now the target of the the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR.
The group contends that the bill, SB 864: Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education, introduced by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, would create an unfunded mandate posing an unnecessary burden on local school districts, according to its statement released Monday, which says:
SB 864 has the potential to jeopardize the entire Sunshine State school system with an unnecessary law for a problem that does not exist by:
- Imposing a tremendous unfunded mandate on our school districts
- Depriving school districts of the state’s “economy of scale” in textbook purchasing power
- Reducing Florida’s influence over textbook content
- Opening the adoption process to social and political bias
- Threatening the constitutional requirement for a uniform system of free public schools
However, what is really at stake for the group is its claim that the bill was prompted by anti-Muslim bigotry. Hayes sponsored the bill in response to a history book that residents of Brevard County claimed in July emphasized Islam’s influence on the world while minimizing Christianity and Judaism.
“World History,” published by Prentice-Hall, “has a 36-page chapter on Islam but no chapters on Christianity or Judaism,” Florida Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne said. “It’s remarkably one-sided.”
The dispute eventually spilled over into Volusia County, where critics said the text “whitewashes” the history of Islam.
The bill is nearing passage in both chambers.
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