Textbook bill gutted by Senate

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The state Senate gutted a Louisiana House-passed bill Monday that sought to give local school districts the ability to choose their own textbooks rather than have to follow a state-approved list in order to use state dollars to pay for them.

Senators turned the House Bill 116 into a study commission to review the issue. With that rewriting, the Senate then passed the measure in a 37-1 vote, sending it back to the House for consideration of the change.

State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, wanted to establish that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education can’t require local school districts to purchase specific textbooks or instructional materials, saying locals should have the ability to make their own decisions.

Critics questioned whether the change would allow substandard teaching and let creationism be introduced in public school science classes.

Under the rewritten bill, an 18-member Task Force on Textbooks and Instructional Materials would be created in the state education department to review the process for selecting textbooks and make recommendations for revisions to the law. The task force would make recommendations to the House and Senate education committees by Feb. 1.