The Alabama Legislature is poised to consider two bills overhauling the state textbook committee. Both pieces of legislation are designed to clarify and improve the process by which the committee recommends textbooks to local school systems.

House Bill 336 is sponsored by State Rep. Danny Garret (R-Trussville).

Senate Bill 15 is sponsored by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence).

On Thursday, the Alabama State Board of Education discussed the proposed changes during a work session.

SBOE member Traci West (R) voiced her support for the bills which aim to clarify and improve the process by which the state textbook committee recommends textbooks for local school systems.

The bills would allow for an overhaul of Alabama’s current textbook review process and update the state’s textbook law to align with the Alabama Literacy Act, which was passed in 2019.

During the work session, West expressed her support for the proposed changes and explained why those changes to state law were needed to allow local school systems to choose textbooks that were current, met state standards, and avoided inappropriate social engineering.

West supported a 2021 effort to prevent critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in Alabama’s K-12 schools. Part of that effort also includes the ability of local school systems to be able to choose approved textbooks that do not include critical race theory or other social engineering in their curriculums.

“I believe that the next step in improving education in Alabama is improving our state textbook law,” West said in a statement. “Corrections must be made immediately in order to protect our students and Alabama classrooms. Reading proficiently is the gateway for all children to have success in school and Kindergarten through third grade materials are the highest priority as we uphold the Alabama Literacy Act.

“I would like to thank Senator Melson and Representative Garret for their leadership in helping to address the needed changes in the textbook adoption process. This alignment of the state textbook law with the Alabama Literacy Act will offer more support for local schools districts, which is a priority of the state board of education.”

According to the synopsis of Melson’s SB15: “Existing law provides for a State Textbook Committee process to consider the merit of textbooks offered for use in the public elementary and high schools of the state and make recommendations for approval or rejection to the State Board of Education. This bill would provide for publishers to provide evidence of standards correlation on forms provided by the State Department of Education. This bill would authorize the State Superintendent of Education to convene other instructional materials review committees to review and rate varying instructional materials. This bill would also authorize the State Superintendent of Education to establish evaluation criteria to be used by other instructional materials review committees.”

SB15 has been assigned to the Senate Education Policy Committee.

Thursday was the second legislative day of the 2022 Alabama regular legislative session. Each regular session is limited to no more than thirty legislative days.

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