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By Jim Shilander
The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees declined to purchase new textbooks for a new Advanced Placement World History class at Dana Hills and Capistrano Valley high schools after trustees objected to both the content and quality of the text.
William Evers, the husband of Trustee Anna Bryson and a former assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration, said the book, World Civilizations: The Global Experience, 6th edition, failed to give adequate space to classical liberal, as well as conservative economic thinkers, from the Austrian and Chicago schools. As to historical events, Evers said the book presents one-sided views of the Great Depression, the Vietnam War and global warming.
Assistant superintendent for educational services Julie Hatchel said the new version of the book also included a number of supplemental materials the previous version did not have, and was one of the recommended texts for AP world history.
Bryson, who has announced her candidacy for the State Assembly seat currently served by Diane Harkey, said it is important, especially in a state with fiscal problems, to present different economic schools of thought. She said the treatment of the Vietnam War was also considered poor by many of her Vietnamese constituents and friends.
“You have to show both sides,” Bryson said. “It would behoove us to do better for our students,” Bryson said.
Trustee Jim Reardon said he found the book’s text to be “sludge.”
“It shocked me that a textbook publisher wants $150 for work so poor,” Reardon said.
District staff said they would look to use the fifth edition of the book, currently in use elsewhere in the district, for the class.
Trustee Lynn Hatton voiced concern that the fifth edition of the book might be just as bad as the sixth.
Trustees Takes a Look at Updated Budget
The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees got a first look at an updated version of the district’s 2013-2014 budget, but the final shape of that budget will still likely depend on what gets adopted in Sacramento.
Clark Hampton, assistant superintendent for business and support services, told trustees that the district was not expecting significant changes from the state as the budget moves toward the adoption of a budget compromise, but said the district is expecting more funding this year than in 2012-2013. Under current projections, the state will likely not restore the amount of funding the district had before the economic downturn, until at least 2021, according to Hampton.
Trustees expressed disappointment that the budget documents were not completed earlier (they were sent the information the previous week). Superintendent Joseph Farley said district staff had done the best they could to get the work done, especially since the district did not have any knowledge of what form the state budget might take.
Trustee Jim Reardon said it is important for the board continue to examine all programs in the budget to measure their effectiveness and whether that money was the best use of resources. He specifically pointed to the cost of California Preparatory Academy ($796,442), and that it only served 104 students. That funding, he said, could be used to help restore an instructional day for all students district-wide.
Board president John Alpay said the district had acted to try and harness market forces and provide parents and students with choices. Eliminating such a program so early in its life, he said, would be “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”