Re:  Bible Literacy Project, Ala. HB 58

As State School Board members, we support local control; we value the unique and very important role of the Bible and its influence in literature, art, music and history; and we fully concur with the current state policy which allows for a high school elective in Bible literacy.  We are, therefore,  very much concerned over  HB 58,  which mandates a specific textbook,  produced by the Bible Literacy Project.  This bill, announced in a press conference in the State Capitol on December 1 by Speaker of the House Seth Hammett and Rep. Ken Guin, caught state school board members completely unaware. We feel HB 58 is on a fast track to passage and wish to alert our state legislators and the general public.

Our major concerns are:
(1) The bill mandates the use of only ONE textbook, The Bible and Its Influence, written by Cullen Schippe and Chuck Stetson, and published by BLP Publishing (The Bible Literacy Project) in 2005. This book has not been reviewed by any textbook committee or by our state or local school boards.  The mandate of a single textbook is highly unusual and likely without precedent in our state.
(2)  The bill is unnecessary if its purpose is to establish approval of a high school elective in Bible literacy.  There is already approval for such a course and in fact many schools in Alabama are already successfully offering such a course.  Passage of HB 58 would preclude these schools from using their chosen curriculum and force them  to use a book dictated by the legislature.
(3)  If the purpose of the bill is to avoid lawsuits, then the bill is not only unnecessary but could be counterproductive.  No one has successfully challenged the current courses being offered in Alabama and no one has successfully challenged The Bible in History and Literature from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which has been in use nationally for over ten years and which has been selected by at least four local school systems in Alabama.  We would not be the least surprised if the passage of this bill results in a legal challenge and resultant expense to the citizens of Alabama.
(4)  Unlike some other curricula chosen for Bible literacy classes, The Bible and Its Influence does not allow the students to use their own Bibles as their textbook..
(5)  HB 58 infringes on local authority and the authority of the state school board.
(6)  There is no teacher's manual for this curriculum. The Alabama textbook committee members always review the teachers' versions of the textbook because the teacher's manual has vital information not available in the student text which should be considered in choosing the overall curriculum. 
We hope the sponsors of HB 58 will reconsider their pursuit of mandating this specific textbook.  We will be glad to furnish additional information including websites about the Bible Literacy Project and its textbook.
                              Stephanie Bell                                                      Betty Peters
                              3318 Lancaster Lane                                             3507 Huntington Place
                              Montgomery, AL 36106                                          Dothan, AL 36303
                              Ph.  334 272-2777                                                 Ph. 334 794-8024, cell 334 701-9804
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