House votes to allow local school districts to choose textbooks

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Local school districts could choose their own textbooks rather than having to follow a state-approved list in order to use state dollars to pay for them, under a bill that received approval from the House in a 73-22 vote.

The measure (House Bill 116) by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, would establish that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education can't require local school districts to purchase specific textbooks or instructional materials.

Critics questioned whether the change would allow substandard teaching - or be a back-door attempt to introduce creationism in science classes.

"I guarantee you that's not my purpose in bringing this bill," Hoffmann said.

Hoffmann said a state-recommended textbook list still will be developed, and he said he expects 98 percent of books to be taken from that list. He said laws require schools to teach to state content standards, no matter what textbooks they use.

The proposal heads next to the Senate for debate. A similar proposal by Hoffmann failed to win legislative support two years ago.

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