By Charly SHELTON
For months, a hot topic of debate in the bi-weekly Glendale Unified School District Board of Education meetings has been the adoption of new textbooks for Spanish levels 1-6. The textbooks ¡Qué chévere! 1-3 were adopted last June after a committee of Spanish teachers in the district voted to approve this series of books for use district wide, further voted and approved by the Board of Education. Rosemont Middle School Spanish teacher Laura Rivera and a concerned group of parents began almost immediately to voice their disapproval of not only the books themselves but of the whole process for approving textbooks. This has led to changes in the policies of textbook adoption and now the Board has decided to rescind the decision on the ¡Qué chévere! books.
“This board has decided to rescind the decision that we previously had approved regarding ¡Qué chévere! Spanish book. It is on our agenda and we will be rescinding our vote and just for the public, I want to let you know that not only this board but also every single teacher in our district is committed to adopting books that are culturally sensitive. We are all equally trying our best,” said Dr. Armina Gharpetian, Board president. “[We want to use] materials that are culturally respectful, and that serve the social and emotional welfare of all our students. I would like to stress that, all of our students. And we strive for educational excellence.”
During the public comments section of the meeting, parents of the district came out to voice their concerns over this decision that was to be made, urging the Board to do what they had scheduled on the agenda that evening.
“Our daughter was very excited about entering Rosemont middle school. When we found out about the stereotypes that are in the Spanish textbooks that were going to be used, we felt horrible and thought ‘how are we going to tell her?’” said Francesa Costabuelna. “She was bullied at her elementary school including pressure from children who were involved in inappropriate behavior. We were grateful that the teachers dealt with this serious matter. We are telling you this because there is too much sexual implication in ¡Qué chévere! The content in the textbook could lead to teasing of my daughter about her culture such as the flies in our recipes.”
Costabuelna went on to say that she and her husband had considered pulling their daughter out of the district over the adoption of the textbook, but it was not feasible.
“I asked my husband to make a sacrifice and send her to a private school. He said ‘we pay taxes and we should have very good public schools,’” Costabuelna said.
The Board, during the scheduled Consent Calendar section of the meeting, did in fact rescind the approval of ¡Qué chévere! and a new textbook will be found using the new guidelines set out in the textbook selection policy update unveiled and adopted at the last meeting, September 6.
“I appreciate the feedback from the teachers and the community at large and I’m very appreciative too to our board and staff itself that we are at the position of doing this at this time,” said Boardmember Greg Krikorian.