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Davis Journal

Social studies textbooks go digital

Aug 31, 2021 11:31AM ● By Becky Ginos

Students at North Davis Junior High check out the school’s educational programs at Back-to-School night. The district will be using an online database resource for social studies in secondary schools. Courtesy photo

FARMINGTON—The idea of passing out physical textbooks the first day of class is mostly a thing of the past. The Davis School District will now be using ABC-CLIO, an online database resource for secondary schools for social study instruction.

“We used to buy printed textbooks for those instructional materials,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Logan Toone. “The topics align with the core curriculum. Students have access to the database as well.”

However, in the current issues class, students don’t have access to everything, he said. “We want to ensure the resources we deliver are well aligned with the curriculum so we don’t get into issues that teachers are not supposed to talk about such as topics recently prohibited by the State Board of Education of race, racism, that one race is superior to another. These are things we wouldn’t be teaching anyway. None of it is in the core curriculum.”

Content in ABC-CLIO is well vetted by teachers, especially in the current issues class, said Toone. “This is one of the things the teachers are skilled at. It’s well aligned to be core specific to make sure teachers aren’t pushing the envelope and not sharing personal views. If the class is having an appropriate discussion and a student brings something else up the teacher can say ‘there’s a different time and place for that.’ If it’s a historical discussion based on fact, they shouldn’t shy away from that.”

District policy and procedures outlines the steps that must be taken to adopt new instructional materials, he said. “We put out an RFP to publishing companies and parents and teachers serve on a committee that reviews all the responses from the publishing companies. They give each one a score. They make a final determination based on the highest score. That started in January. It’s a pretty comprehensive process.”

A public review period is also part of the process, Toone said. “We had an open house where the community could add comments and review the material. We held that via Zoom and had about 1,100 people register but only 140 participated. The material was made available by the publisher for five days. By contract the publisher owns the copyright for all access.”

Toone said if there are people who are concerned that they did not have access to materials he believes the district has done its due diligence. “People who wanted to review it had that opportunity.”

If a parent wants to know what their child is learning the teacher or student can provide that, he said. “There is no reason a parent should feel like they don’t have access, we can certainly provide that. If they feel like they don’t know or are unclear about access, it’s best to start by reaching out to the teacher or school principal and we’ll make sure we take care of them.”