District says Richmond County teachers have textbooks

Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Biology teacher Joey Martin collects textbooks at the Academy of Richmond County. Principal Tim Spivey said that not every class has traditional textbooks because some classes use workbooks.

It's a complaint Richmond County school board members say they hear often, especially in the first few weeks of a school year: "My child doesn't have any textbooks."

Yet district officials say that more often than not, after investigating such complaints, they find that teachers have those textbooks.

"The books are not being used" in some cases, Thaddeus McKinnie, the school district's instructional materials manager, said during a recent school board meeting.

"What we ask is that people with questions call me."

McKinnie said principals have discretion over how textbooks are used.

They might choose to not allow students to take them home but only have them in school.

Or they can -- if enough textbooks are available -- even have a set that stays in the classroom and another set that stays at home for students to use until the end of the school year.

The state Department of Education adopts lists of textbooks it recommends that align with the Georgia Performance Standards. Each school district then chooses which textbooks to adopt, and districts typically select ones from state lists, which are revised on a six-year cycle.

The state board in August approved state-recommended lists for fine arts, social studies, health and physical education and advanced mathematical decision-making courses.

Academy of Richmond County Principal Tim Spivey said last week that his policy is to issue one set of textbooks that students use in the classroom and at home as needed. However, not every class has traditional textbooks.

For example, Spivey said, Math I, II and III have workbooks, not textbooks, "that the students actually write and calculate in."

"As far as I know, we do not have a shortage of textbooks," he said.

But that might not be the case everywhere. McKinnie's statement that teachers sometimes choose not to use textbooks that are given to them surprised board member Venus Cain at that meeting, held earlier this fall.

"I would think if the books were there, they would use them," she said. "If not, they would volunteer to give them back so that if there is a shortage somewhere, they could be used."

"No," McKinnie responded. "They will hide the books."

In at least one case last year, a teacher did give out textbooks to students but didn't use them in class.

"Principals need to hold teachers accountable to see if they are using the books or not," said board member Jimmy Atkins.

"I know my eighth-grade daughter last year never used a book (in one class). She left it in her locker all year, and she had to pay damage charges."

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