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Lawmaker Wants To Change How Textbooks Are Selected -- Sky Arnold

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -With two kids in school homework is a big part of Tramaine Taylor's day.
 "I spend like 30 minutes to an hour, like everyday," said Taylor.

That doesn't mean he's always able to read what's in their textbooks though.

Taylor says his children aren't allowed to bring some of their books home.

That's where a new bill by Republican State Representative Glen Casada comes in.

If the General Assembly passes it, potential textbooks will be viewable by parents online.

The bill would also create a parent committee in every district to make recommendations to school boards.
"Bring it back to the local level with parents involved at the local level," said Casada.

That part of the bill hasn't attracted vocal criticism but another section has.

The bill would establish criteria to ensure textbooks are "free from bias" and "reflect the values" of Tennessee.

"There's a lot of places where Fidel Castro is praised or Mau-Tse-Tung is praised but scant attention is paid to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  That by definition is bias so all we're saying is both sides are presented," said Casada.

Democratic State Representative Mike Stewart sees problems with that.

"This is an effort to put politics into the textbook selection process," said Stewart.

Stewart says similar proposals in other states have been used to push political ideas and agendas.

He worries the same would be true in Tennessee.

"I haven't heard a single person ever say we need to change our textbook selection process like a lot of things in Tennessee. It's worked well.  It's been non-political.  I don't know why we wanna change it," said Stewart.