truth, knowledge and reason to Blount County elected officials in the City of Maryville and County
School Districts respectively as his email and attachments are reprinted below with permission.
I personally went to the University of Tennessee several times in 2013 and reviewed prospective textbooks. I was one of at least 30 people across the state that did the same thing. We worked together and compiled a comprehensive review of our textbooks. I personally communicated my findings to the city of Maryville schools where my children attend. To my knowledge, the city of Maryville did listen to my warnings, and avoided purchasing questionable books. While, I admit, I spent the bulk of my time talking to the city of Maryville, I did also talk to Blount County. I spoke to Mr. McNelly while I was talking to voters at the court house, and later I sent him this information. As far as I'm concerned, it was a very good conversation. We took the approach that, while we may disagree on some issues, this is one we both considered important. I know this was not the only communication I had with the Blount County School system, but this is the only one I have a paper trail for. I called Ms. Archer, and I confirmed, she sent a USPS letter to Mr. Britt regarding this issue as well. The very book Mr. McDaniel has brought to our attention was on the list of books we reviewed. Here is a link of our analysis of the book. This was available November 2013.
There are several things you need to find out from our school board and director?
When was the book purchased?
Did you read the book before purchasing it?
Did you seek any reviews of the book before making a purchase?
Did Mr. McNelly pass my email along to others?
Even if they claim they didn't know about our analysis of the book before hand, there should have been some due diligence. As part of my own campaign for school board, I brought up this lack of diligence by Maryville school board members when it comes to classroom material. It is very frustrating when I, as a parent and father, spend far more time pursuing these matters than our elected officials. I'm just thankful, to the best of my knowledge, Maryville's officials listened. Even if we don't see eye to eye on a number of issues, I am personally thankful, on this particular issue, Maryville's officials listened. We see the consequences of ignoring the public in the county. I know this information was public in other venues. 1470AM interviewed members of a church group, who also traveled to UT to review books. Their effort was separate from my own efforts. I know this is true, because I listened to the interview on the radio. I say all this, because I don't consider it plausible, our elected officials did not know about this material before this issue became public.
Samuel David Duck
Dear Director Britt,
As one responsible for the education and well-being of the thousands of children of Blount County, we know you will want to avail yourself of every tool and option that may enhance the implementation of those duties.
Toward the end of last year the TNDOE sent you a letter informing you of the approval of a list of Social Studies textbooks up for adoption for classrooms starting in the fall of 2014 through 2020. In that inconspicuous letter was a statement informing you of the options available to each district in the adoption process and a link accessing reviews completed by citizens and other experts from across Tennessee. Unfortunately that link took you to a very disorganized and incomplete collection of scanned reviews that were difficult to read and woefully disordered.
We have chosen to make this communication bold and bright to get your attention on this extremely important matter. We have learned that many districts were unaware of the details mentioned herein. We can only assume that the one inconspicuous letter from the TNDOE was overlooked. We want to make sure this message is not overlooked!
We are the Tennessee Textbook Advocates, a grassroots group that grew from two to two hundred in the course of this Social Studies textbook selection process; from June, 2013 to present. We want to help.
Our technicians have organized all of the reviews, good to not-so-good, on our website. We invite you to go to TEXTBOOKADVOCATES.COM where you and your curriculum specialists can access every review for every book that was posted in a user-friendly, well-organized format.
Another important offering is this short video: bit.do/TextAdVideo which will convey to you, in unambiguous words from the mouths of TNDOE officials, just exactly what your Blount County School District options are. In less than 5 minutes you will understand that you have choices!
In the very near future you will be contacted by Samuel Duck, one of our members in your county. He will ask for an appointment to convey material for your Director of Curriculum and your teacher-reviewers. I do hope you will accommodate him as early as possible. I understand selections must be made by mid-April.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
Your humble Tennessee Textbook Advocates,
Jackie Archer, Lisa Moore, Bruce Avilla, Sue Redmond, and our many members.