A textbook used in Advanced Placement history classes in Florida is under scrutiny by Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) and a group of parents who think the book displays a pro-Islam bias.
According to Workman and the parents, the book’s partiality to Islam is apparent when compared to its coverage of Christianity and Judaism. Workman and several others criticized the textbook at a Brevard County School Board meeting last week, saying that information in the book is incorrect.
“Our children deserve facts and accuracy, not history being revised for our own failure or desire to not offend one culture or another,” said Workman to the school board, according to Florida Today.
In a video for local outlet WESH-TV, Workman explains that the book, titled “World History,” dedicates 36 pages to Islam and only several paragraphs to Christianity. He also says the book “sugar-coats the rise of Islam.”
"When you report history truly, then you report those horrible things that we did in the name of Christ or that the Jews did. And you should also report that in the name of Islam," he told the outlet.
According to Fox News, the book, which is published by Pearson PLC, has been used for several years in schools across Florida without previously encountering opposition. While Pearson spokesperson Susan Aspey confirmed that the book has a chapter titled “Muslim Civilizations,” she told Fox News that there is “balanced attention given to the beliefs of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.”
Workman alleges that the textbook publisher told him that it had "hired a Muslim cleric to write the Muslim section,” according to Fox News. Aspey denied his claim in her Fox interview and said that "academic experts did review the content, but they did not write it or edit it."
Brevard School Board members Amy Kneessy and Andy Ziegler told Florida Today that they would investigate claims of bias in the textbook.
“When I went to school, I thought that the textbooks were gospel,” Ziegler told the outlet. “If there is information in our textbooks that is incorrect, I believe it needs to be correct.”
Wilfredo Ruiz, an attorney for the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the outlet he believes Workman and other critics of the textbook "just want to create an environment of intolerance toward Muslims and an environment of hate against Islam."
The controversy comes as some Texas legislators are working to ban CSCOPE lesson plans from the classroom. An internet-based curriculum plan previously used by hundreds of school districts in the state, CSCOPE has come under fire from politicians who allege it promotes a "progressive pro-Islamic curriculum."