A school textbook that's received national criticism by conservatives is now also taking heat in St. Charles Unit District 303.
Jennifer Nazlian discovered her daughter was using the "Social Studies Alive!" text in her third-grade classroom. While thumbing through it one night, she found herself filled with some of the same disdain for the messages it contained as conservative icon Glenn Beck.
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Beck slammed the book in April when it first raised the ire of parents in Frederick County, Md. Parents there asked the school board to ban the book in the belief that it contains liberal propaganda about health care, labor and child care. The book contains descriptions of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. There's also a passage about child care being important, but so costly that some families can't afford it and still pay for food and health care. The passage goes on to say some countries, like Vietnam, provide child care as a public service.
"Well, let's all move to Vietnam, everybody," Beck said in roasting the book. "It makes it easier for parents to work."
Nazlian said she shares those concerns about the implied messages in the book. She's following the lead of the Maryland parents in asking District 303 to ban the text.
"I am concerned that this book is being used in our curriculum," Nazlian told a school board committee last week. "I ask that you please review this book and figure out why it's in our district. There are some major concerns with it."
Nazlian may have a built-in champion for her cause on the school board.
Judith McConnell won a seat on the board in April in an uncontested election. McConnell is also the coordinator of the Tri City Tea Party Patriots, an affiliate of the Illinois Tea Party.
In reviewing the book, McConnell found herself agreeing with its conservative critics.
"It is really deleterious to our children and to our community," McConnell said of the book. "It is not good for our children."
School Board Vice President Kathy Hewell said this is the first time she can ever remember a parent complaining about the content of a textbook. She said the issue is up to Superintendent Don Schlomann to decide.
Schlomann has been out of town attending a conference.
District staff are reviewing the complaint and will coordinate a response upon Schlomann's return. The full school board will meet Monday. The issue is not explicitly listed on the board's agenda for discussion.