Parents petition against history book 'slanted' on Islam

Critics say textbook omits violent history, inequalities of religion

By James Sparvero - Reporter

VIERA, Fla. - The Brevard County School Board decided Tuesday night to adopt a newly revised ninth-grade world history book for its students.

The book was approved on a 5-0 vote, a spokesperson for the schools said around 9 p.m.

An older edition of the textbook fell under heavy scrutiny in 2014 from activist groups and parents who said the book's chapters on Islam only showed the positive history of the religion, not examples of violence and inequality.

"They just omit the things that would be sounding negative. It's not fair," said Roger Gangitano, who leads the Brevard County-area chapter of activist group ACT! for America. "We need to protect against indoctrination."

The group influenced revisions of the textbook in 2014. The book's publisher, Pearson, made changes that Gangitano's group and other critics are calling an improvement, but some are still taking issue with the latest version of the textbook.

"The problems remain that Islam is being portrayed in a far more favorable light than what would be 100 percent accurate," Gangitano said.

But in the end, the 2018 World History book was adopted by Brevard Schools by the end of the school board meeting Tuesday night.

Two parents were expected to protest. They petitioned the board that the new textbook is still partially "incorrect," "incomplete" or "slanted."

A spokesman for Brevard Schools disagreed while speaking with News 6 on Tuesday.

"The important thing about the book is that it's geared toward helping students to think critically," said Matt Reed, with Brevard Public Schools. "There are people who evaluated this book who found it to be fair, that it reflected history as well as being critical of the rise of Islamic extremism and terrorism."

Tuesday night's textbook-adoption hearing was the last before new state law will allow anyone to protest a textbook, and not just parents. The new law will also mandate an independent overseer to look at the case.

Gangitano said he thinks the debate will continue at another time.

"I don't think very much will be done," he said. "I think that the school board is limited in what their abilities are. They can't change too much of what's proposed in the textbooks. They're already printed."

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