Lawmaker Considering Legislation To Cut Down 'Islam-Bias' In Fla. School Textbooks

Aug 5, 2013

A Florida lawmaker is considering legislation that would give the public input on the content found in Florida school textbooks. His overall aim is to cut down on what he calls the “Islam-bias” in state schools.

Melbourne Republican Representative Ritch Workman says Prentice Hall’s “World History” book not only puts an inaccurate spin on Islam, it also dedicates a whole chapter to the religion…

“..which would be okay , if they had a whole chapter dedicated to all world religions and they wanted to make it kind of a World Religion subtext to a World History book, but they don’t,” said Workman.

He says the textbook also, in his words,” whitewashes history.” For example, he says it talks about both Christian and Muslim crusades, but only shows the brutality of Christianity.  So, Workman says he’d like to reverse a change to state law made last year which took away the public’s voice on textbook content. 

“In order to streamline the Department of Education, we may have very well taken out some valuable input and so, we still need to look into undoing that. Because we want to make sure that parent groups and organizations have a right to read these textbooks in advance of them being approved by the state, and looking for these biases. We can’t control the Publisher, but we can control what we buy—which in turn, will control what the publisher,” Workman added.

Workman recently brought his concerns to a Brevard County School Board meeting. The board is currently reviewing the textbook. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Pearson, the textbook’s publisher, says the textbook is not biased toward Islam and the company treats all religions fairly.

Full Pearson Statement:

We’ve recently heard concerns about a Pearson high school textbook used in Brevard County, Florida, entitled Florida World History. Some have claimed that this text, used in a 10th grade course, is biased towards Islam at the expense of Judaism and Christianity.  We’d like to set the record straight.

In Florida, as in other states, Pearson creates custom course materials that align to the state’s specific curriculum standards. Florida’s standards split the world history curriculum into two years of study, in grades 6 and 10.  The state’s standards require the sixth grade curriculum start with early civilizations and continue through to the fall of Rome (476 A.D.).  In the 10th grade, the state’s high school curriculum begins with the Byzantines (330 A.D.), proceeds to the Early Middle Ages in Europe (500 A.D.) and continues to the present day.

The Florida edition of the Pearson high school World History text aligns to the state’s standards, which require that the high school course includes content on the origins of Islam, while the middle school text details the earlier origins of Judaism and Christianity. The Florida Department of Education approved the Pearson World History programs for adoption and validated that the content in our programs meets the requirements and educational goals of the state.

Pearson and its authors adhere to the highest editorial standards when creating course materials. We rigorously support the integrity of our content with both internal reviewers and independent expert reviewers. We are committed to presenting balanced, unbiased and accurate coverage of world religions.  The content is thoroughly reviewed by scholars of comparative religion, as well as academic
specialists in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.