Sunday, August 31, 2014

Public review for textbooks produces no input from public

From page A4 | June 12, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Eleven books. Eleven pages for public comment. Not a single word.

Textbooks, including English language arts books that meet Common Core State Standards and costing $229,889 for three high school grades, have been on display since May 22 for public review at the school district office but brought no visitors, according to the Fairfield-Suisun School District.

Trustees take up adoption of the $253,473 worth of textbooks at their meeting Thursday.

Dave Gaut, who serves on the seven-member board of trustees, said it’s hard to know why people don’t take an interest in the opportunity at the Instructional Media Center.

“We never get a lot,” he said of people reviewing textbooks.

But some controversial literature has spurred interest, Gaut said.

Parents with children in the school district may be working all day and lack the time to review textbooks, he said.

The district uses Facebook and the school district website as ways to publicize events, Gaut said.

“I’m not sure what else you do,” the trustee said. “We really want to improve our communication in the district.”

Lydia Gutierrez, a teacher in Long Beach who received 850,218 votes June 3 for state superintendent of public instruction and is running in November as a write-in candidate, said parents should know the curriculum taught their children.

The lack of public interest in the textbooks suggests parents aren’t attending local school board meetings to learn about such matters as textbook review, Gutierrez said.

The Spring Board textbook for English in 11th grade includes in its “American Dream” section, a picture of people protesting government spending cuts. How does this image juxtapose the promise and reality of the American Dream, the textbook asks.

Editorials in the textbook include “Abolish High School Football” and one of the satire pieces is “Let’s Hear It for the Cheerleaders” – which states that cheerleading is almost unknown outside the U.S.

Gutierrez, whose write-in candidacy is a protest against Common Core, called the new instructional methods “a theory, licensed as a product, marketed as a standard.”

Previous curricula were proven academically, she said, and the school district “should not get rid of a single book.”

“Our tax dollars have paid for every textbook,” Gutierrez said.

Funding comes from the state lottery and money for instructional materials. The Common Core language arts books are for ninth, 10th and 11th grades.

New instructional materials are submitted to the trustees for adoption after initial review by staff and the public, a report to the school board states.

Trustees meet at 6 p.m. in the central office board room at 2490 Hilborn Road in Fairfield.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or


Discussion | 8 comments

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  • Grumpy GusJune 11, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    I call BS Dave... the district has the ability to robo call every parent... they have our emails. If they truly wanted input, they could reach out to let people know about this. When you sit there in the Ivory Tower for two weeks and do not see even one person come to see the textbooks, do you not wonder if your maybe your outreach is not effective? Facebook and us going to your website... REALLY? Shame on the district. remember almost all parents work, and do not read the DR...

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  • MikeJune 12, 2014 - 4:54 am

    I half-heartly agree with Grumpy here. I do read the DR and only yesterday noticed the story about being able to review the new textbooks. I don't frequent the District website, I am not a fan of Facebook. So what's the solution to better communication? I'm leaning towards timely DR coverage.

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  • SMHJune 12, 2014 - 8:35 am

    This is the first I've heard of it. I'm going to assume that the ineffective outreach was either intentional or that the district is seriously inept. With all the methods of getting the word out, Facebook and the district website are the best they could do?

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  • AnitaJune 12, 2014 - 10:26 am

    I agree if they wanted the parents imput they wold have used their automatic phone system that calls us almost nightly during the school year to repeat the same messages over and over.

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  • B. ThiemerJune 12, 2014 - 9:05 am

    What is wrong with the current textbooks that we need to shell out 100s of thousands of dollars to replace them?

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  • anitaJune 12, 2014 - 10:24 am

    This is the first I heard about the reviewing of new books I dont think the district needs to spend any money on new books right now. My son had 5 text books last year in the 11th grade. 2 of them he never even opened. They just sat on his desk for the entire year. The teachers dont follow the books. They use them improperly even when they use them. They make up their own assignments instead of using them. This has been the norm in almost every grade my kids were in thru the last 20 years of fairfield schools. The teachers that do use the books just hand out assignments and expect the kids to learn the info on their own. This is a terrible school district. Just loosing our Principal was another horrible decision the kids at fairfield high have to live with. I pray things change for ther better. I feel sorry for the children that have to go to these schools.

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  • Fed UpJune 12, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    Attention School District Admin and School Trustees: Parents want input! Parents want to be involved in their children's education. Parents want to be active. Why d you work so hard to shut them out and then when it suits you, you whine about the lack of parent involvement? Now that the word is getting out about the textbook review (thanks to the DR) why not extend the review time an extra 2 weeks so parents have the opportunity to be involved? Get those phone messages going!! Or did everyone go on vacation already??

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  • Typical County WorkerJune 12, 2014 - 10:02 pm

    The board did not really want public input. They would get negative responses to common core. The FFSUSD website is terrible. The review was only available during business hours. If they truly want input, why not scan examples and have them available on a better designed website.

    Reply | Report abusive comment

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