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Duval School Board Approves Five New Curricula At Cost Of $5.3M

Worapol Sittiphaet

The Duval County School Board has approved five new curricula.

The new materials will cost the district around $5.3 million. About a third of that will go toward a middle-school language arts curriculum.

Last month, Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti switched his recommendation from a curriculum slightly more aligned with state standards, to one a committee of teachers liked better, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Collections.

Board member Paula Wright says she’s grateful for that.

“When we have teachers who serve on the instructional review teams and they select something, and they’re the ones that’s going to use it to deliver the instruction on our children," she says, "since we look to them for their guidance, we respect that guidance.”

Middle and high-school students will also get new curricula for health and technical classes, including culinary, robotics and construction.

High school students will get new AP English and visual and performing arts curricula.

School board member Jason Fischer voted against all the recommended materials. He says he’s against Common Core standards and also thinks the district should be reviewing new curricula for truthfulness and accuracy before adopting them.

“You know, geography books listing Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel instead of Jerusalem, which Israel says, 'Our capital is Jerusalem.' There’s actually a political statement of why people would do things like that,” he says. “There’s several other examples; that’s just one that easily comes to mind.”

However, since the founding of Israel in 1948, the U.S. has taken the position that Jerusalem is not considered part of any country until its status is negotiated in a Middle East peace deal. Therefore, Tel Aviv is recognized as the capital, and all foreign embassies are located there.

Fischer plans to hold three elementary-school curriculum town halls starting Monday evening at Bartram Springs Elementary. He says he doesn’t like what the district is using and wants to hear from parents.

Photo used under Creative Commonslicense.

Clarification: This story originally did not include the explanation of the dispute over Israel's capital.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.