Originally created 07/06/99

Agency displays material



Every five years, the Georgia Department of Education reviews textbooks for a particular subject area and recommends selected books to local school systems.

During the next two weeks, the state hopes to get local input on books it is considering for middle and high school technology and career education courses.

"If we can catch something that's definitely wrong now, it gives the publishers a chance to fix the problems," said Elvin Skidmore, the site coordinator for District 10.

Mr. Skidmore, a teacher at Evans High School in Columbia County, is one of about 40 people on a statewide committee to evaluate and recommend textbooks for use in local schools offering technology and career education classes -- formerly known as vocational courses.

The books and multimedia packages will be on display at the CSRA Regional Education Service Agency in Dearing today through Friday and Monday through July 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The RESA office is on U.S. Highway 78 in the old Dearing Elementary School about four miles west of Harlem. District 10 covers Burke, Columbia, Emanuel, Glascock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren and Wilkes counties.

"We simply want other educators within the local community and parents and other lay members of the community to have an opportunity to know what's being reviewed, being submitted by the different companies and have their opportunity to give their input," said Andrea Gordon of the Georgia Department of Education's Curriculum and Reading Division.

There are roughly 300 books on display in Dearing. Some include textbooks in the areas of health occupations, mechanical operations, criminal justice, drafting, graphic arts, technology, family and consumer sciences and agriculture. The public also will be able to view videotapes and to get a look at some of the multimedia packages being offered by publishers.

Mr. Skidmore said he hopes parents, teachers and local business and industry representatives will participate in the review and provide input.

"We would love to have technology people -- people proficient in that particular track," he said.

Each year the state reviews textbooks from a different subject area. Next year, the state will review math textbooks for kindergarten through 12th grade. The state process usually begins each February and ends in November. From there, local systems have more than a year to complete their own evaluations.

Local systems are not required to purchase books on the state-approved list. However, school systems must justify their selection and go through a review.

"You can't just go out and pick a book because it has pretty pictures," said Nettie Engels, executive director of curriculum for Columbia County schools. "You always want to have justification because you're spending taxpayers' money, so you want to know you're really getting the best for your dollar."

Peggy Ussery can be reached at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 112, or ussery@augustachronicle.com.