Editorial: Books for learning — State board must deal with textbook objections, but then move on
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 13, 2013 | 2541 views |  0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tommy Bice. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press
Tommy Bice. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press
Middle-school students in Alabama are already at a disadvantage because of how the state Legislature habitually funds public schools as if they’re an afterthought. The last thing students need are textbooks that don’t offer the broad base of knowledge they need to succeed in high school.

Well, not so fast, says the Eagle Forum and ACT for America, two conservative groups who are in a tizzy over the state Board of Education’s consideration of textbooks the groups consider biased against Christianity.

We’re not surprised.

Not that the Eagle Forum and ACT for America don’t have a right to question the board about the worthiness of new middle-school textbooks before a vote is taken. Debate is good.

But these two groups, whose objections were reported in Friday’s Star, sound as if they’re more concerned with rooting out any alleged religious bias and furthering their agendas than they are ensuring that Alabama’s middle-school students get the best public education the state can provide.

By that, we also mean all Alabama students — those Christian, those Muslim, those Jewish, those who don’t adhere to any faith.

Isn’t that a main reason why public schools exist?

We applaud Superintendent Tommy Bice for not making a bigger deal about this than it is, and for delaying a board vote on the textbooks until after the Christmas holidays. Following protocol and researching the groups’ complaints are the mannerly, if not professional, things to do.

If given the chance, we would ask the Eagle Forum and ACT for America this question: What harm is it for young teenagers to learn the basic facts and histories of religions? It’s information, not indoctrination. Textbooks shouldn’t proselytize; they should educate. The difference is immense. And parents who disagree and want their teens to learn in a curriculum that follows certain religious paths have private-school options, if they can afford the tuition.

On Thursday, board member Ella Bell told The Star she is a Christian but that she doesn’t shy away from learning about other religions. “My religion stands toe-to-toe with any religion, and I am not intimidated, because I have faith,” she said.

If only the Eagle Forum and ACT for America would adopt that thoughtful stance.
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