Volusia schools will keep using history book

DELTONA, Fla. - A central Florida school board has decided to keep a world history textbook that some parents wanted pulled from classes because they say it offers a pro-Islamic worldview.

The board made its decision Monday after hearing four hours of public comment. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the board didn't take a formal vote after hearing from some 80 speakers. Only board member Linda Costello pushed for a more thorough review.

"I'm still confident with the book and its presentation to our students," said school board chairwoman Diane Smith. Board members Candace Lankford, Stan Schmidt and Ida Wright agreed the book should remain in the classrooms.

"It's kind of what I would have expected," said Walter Hanford, a book opponent who attended the meeting. During the meeting he told the board the "World History" textbook published by Prentice Hall "whitewashes" the history of Islam and its Muslim followers.

The controversy erupted in early November after a Deltona High parent complained to a friend about the book's treatment of the Islamic religion. The friend, from Lake County, posted information on Facebook and organized a protest rally before the board's Nov. 5 meeting.

That meeting was cancelled before it began due to security concerns. The controversy continued to simmer. The newspaper reported Volusia County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Tony Ledbetter took over leadership of the textbook protest.

A group of students also attended Monday's meeting.

Brian Vaughn, a student government representative at Spruce Creek High School, handed in a petition that he said was signed by more than 500 students at five high schools. The petitioners favor keeping the textbook.

Opponents say it's full of omissions and errors that favor Islam over other religions, including Christianity and Judaism. They asked for a thorough review of the book.

"This book is ridiculously biased," said Armando Escalante of Port Orange.

But historian Alfred Perkins argued that omissions are inevitable in textbooks that condense thousands of years of history into a single volume.

Supporters say it's important to teach students about all religions, and their impact on world history.

"Learning about Islam doesn't make anyone Muslim," said Suzanne Southard of Deland.

The last speaker of the day was Rhiannon Dotson, a 12-year-old sixth grader from Orlando.

"I feel we should learn about all cultures and religions," she told the board. "This whole thing is about hate and ignorance. Please don't teach me and my friends hate."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.