School Board Rejects Knocke View of History Textbook

Jack Knocke and the World History textbook.

The Nassau County School Board was unanimous in voting to deny Citizens Defending Freedom's (CDF) objections to a world history textbook for grades nine through 12 classes in the upcoming school year.

Earlier this year, Jack Knocke, executive director of Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF), filed a formal complaint against the world history textbook approved by the Florida Department of Education and Nassau County School Board and published by SAVVAS Learning LLC.

On Thursday, the school board followed the recommendation of Hearing Officer Sharyl Wood, who issued a two-page advisory to the board denying Knocke's objection.

"The objections were not due to students' needs not being met nor students' inability to understand the material. The stated objections cited Mr. Knocke's personal opposition to the material based on political, philosophical, and/or religious ideology," Wood wrote in her recommendation.

The recommendation also stated: "Materials and evidence submitted by Mr. Knocke did not define student needs nor show evidence of those needs not being met."

Wood wrote, "It is reasonable to conclude that the book does provide ample means for students to understand the materials."

During the meeting, Knocke again voiced his objection to the textbook.

"Citizens Defending Freedom is not a fringe group. We are local people and we are parents," Knocke said. "Kids are God's creation and we owe it to them to make sure they are being taught facts. You as a school board have an opportunity to accept or not accept a textbook based on the facts. You should do that very carefully. Because if you don't do it today, it will be harder to do it in the future."

During a May preliminary hearing on CDF's objection, Knocke told school board members, “Today’s issue is a continuation of clean-up of woke, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), racist content in our public schools. Our objections relate to inappropriate, inaccurate, and non-scientific information being presented as scientific fact. We don’t want to confuse, manipulate or indoctrinate students with woke, social or political ideology.”

CDF took issue with the textbook teaching evolution over creationism as articulated in the Bible. CDF objected to the content overlooking Judeo-Christian beliefs.

During public comments, Margaret Weeks, a scientist, told school board members, "The truth does not need apologists or indoctrination. Our goal in education should be to teach our children how to think, not what to think. Teaching creationism with science undermines our children's ability to engage in critical thinking. It's not about differing viewpoints. It's about maintaining educational integrity. Religion has its place in homes and in places of worship, but it should not replace evidence-based science in our schools."