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FL education chair and Rick Scott pick: I didn't call for screening books about homosexuality, socialism


File this one under the perils of reporting, politics, education and maybe bad acoustics.

On Tuesday, during a day-long education summit, politicians and educators grappled with an increasingly divisive political issue: the Common Core standards. It's opposed by a vocal group of conservatives as well as a few liberals and libertarians.

Sometimes, however, it was tough to hear exactly who said what during the meeting in Clearwater. The acoustics were bad. So there's no recording.

In the midst of a good explanatory piece, the Tampa Bay Times wrote this State Board Chairman Gary Chartrand recommended that reading lists for students be screened to avoid potentially upsetting subjects such as socialism and homosexuality. Later, his group suggested that instructional materials be "aligned with Florida's values and culture."

But Chartrand is adamant: He never said this.

Instead, Chartrand said, he was explaining to the group why some others oppose aspects of Common Core.

"Some people are anti-Common Core, and particularly on the far right, because they object to some of the reading materials that would reference such things as homosexuality or socialism or some contentious issues," said Chartrand, recalling his comments. "That’s all I said. That was my comment."

A major reason Chartrand wanted to clear the air is that he's a solid supporter of equal treatment for gays and lesbians. His group, The Chartrand Foundation, has supported JASMYN, devoted to ending bullying of LGBT kids. And he backed a Jacksonville human-rights ordinance as well.

But the Times stands by its story as well, specifically that Chartrand used the word "screen." Indeed, the group recommendation implicitly calls for screening by saying the state should "proactively look for ways to provide curriculum and instructional materials (eg reading lists) that align with Florida's culture and values while allowing local control."

Of course, if there were a recording, this wouldn't be a mystery. So who knows?

**Note: blog has been updated, headline changed.