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Schools taskforce examines best books for students

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – Are the books your children reading in school culturally appropriate and do they provide the best perspective? It’s something the Pinellas County School District is examining with its newly formed Curriculum Taskforce. 

The taskforce is made up of about 40 members, including school staff, students and other stakeholders.

One of the students on the taskforce is Pinellas County High School senior Lisa Ostin. She said she had been very active at her high school before switching to virtual learning, and she wanted to do more. One of her teachers familiar with her advocacy and outreach told her about the taskforce and she immediately applied and got accepted. 

Ostin said the need for this kind of dialog is important for all students, especially when it comes to materials about history of other races in this country.  

“Even the 13th amendment. It’s like, ‘OK, they’re free now. Here’s the law that says that and then we move on,’” she said. “We don’t talk about well what does the 13th amendment actually represent?”

The soon to be graduate is hoping her work on Pinellas County School’s Curriculum Taskforce will change that knowledge for other children.

Hillary Van Dyke is one of the district’s administrators leading the charge. 

“It’s literally going in and researching what is that book from the best list about and what are some other books that might tell this story similarly, or could do the same job or maybe have a more diverse perspective,” Van Dyke said. 

The taskforce provided Spectrum Bay News 9 with a document that shows some of the books they’re examining that are on the state’s BEST, Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, Book List. 

Their work examines reading books and textbooks used in grades K-12. On the working list the taskforce provided they’re looking at some of the more popular books

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