The State Board of Education on Wednesday approved a new rule that will lead to Florida officials publishing an annual list of library books and instructional materials that have drawn public objections, in a move that the board’s chairman said will “provide transparency for our families.”
The rule will carry out part of a controversial 2022 law (HB 1467) that increased scrutiny of school library books and instructional materials, amid a broader push by state officials to weed out inappropriate content. Last year’s law, in part, was designed to give parents and the public increased access to the process of selecting and removing books and other materials.
“A lot of these books that have been removed by districts have been for pornographic or graphic materials that don’t belong in schools, but it is done at a local level,” state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., said during Wednesday’s meeting.
The new rule adopted Wednesday provides reporting guidelines for districts to give information to the state about materials that have been objected to.
For example, districts will be required to report the bases for objections, including whether books and materials were challenged under claims that they contained pornographic content or were inappropriate for a grade level or age group.
Districts also would have to report the “rationale for removing, discontinuing, or limiting access to the material or not taking any of these actions.”
The state Department of Education ultimately will compile a list of all books that are removed or discontinued as a result of objections and, as a requirement of the law, “disseminate the list to school districts for consideration in their selection procedures.”
Under the rule, districts by June 30 of each year will be required to report their objection lists to the state Department of Education. The department subsequently would publish the statewide objections list by August 30.
State Board of Education Chairman Ben Gibson touted the rule as allowing for a “standardized reporting mechanism” statewide.
“It does continue to provide transparency for our families. It will also give us a way to post that material, which is required,” Gibson said.
But the larger push to ramp up scrutiny of school-library books and other materials has drawn strong objections from groups that advocate for First Amendment rights.
A federal lawsuit filed last week included plaintiffs such as the free-speech organization PEN America. The challenge alleged that Escambia County’s school district violated the First Amendment by removing or restricting access to more than 150 library books.
“Ensuring that students have access to books on a wide range of topics and expressing a diversity of viewpoints supports a core function of public education, preparing students to be thoughtful and engaged citizens,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday.
Meanwhile, new requirements related to the process of restricting or removing books soon will be coming online in Florida.
A new law (HB 1069) signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last week includes a requirement that any books objected to on the bases that they contain pornographic material or describe “sexual conduct” be removed within five days of an objection and remain unavailable to students until the objection is resolved.
The measure is slated to take effect in July.
The incoming requirements came up during a brief discussion between state board member Grazie P. Christie and Paul Burns, a chancellor with the state education department.
“When a person, when a parent or member of the district objects to a work, how soon does the school district have to respond? I mean, I can imagine a scenario where you find an objectionable book and you know that your third-grader has access to it, and you’re worried about every day that goes by that your third-grader is walking by that pornographic book, for instance,” Christie said.
Burns noted that each district is responsible for setting their own policies about objectionable materials.
“I will say that, I’m kind of foreshadowing here, that you might see us coming back to this board. Because there was some legislation … that’s going to continue to help with this work,” Burns replied in part.
–Ryan Dailey, News Service of Florida
Transparency my butt. The only transparent thing about this is the degree of ignorance being promoted in the name of ‘protecting our children’.
A teacher is being investigated for showing a Disney film.
Amanda Gorman’s poem written for the Biden inauguration is being pulled.
The transparency being promoted is the ineptitude of the state.
Deborah Coffey says
This is such a disgrace. Welcome to Florida, the Nazi state.
Jane E says
Books should NOT be banned!!! If you’re offended by the material then you don’t have to read it. There is never an excuse to ban a book. This is America. Stand up everyone!
Congratulations, Florida. Now we will have a centralized list of all the banned books in school systems throughout the state! How helpful!
For those that do not find this reasonable, I add that this really reminds me of the history I learned about Germany in the last 1930’s. Book bans, “certain” races/ethnicities being singled out for harsh treatment and even death, a government pushing right wing “talking points” all the while doing everything possible to subvert any opposition to the government’s version of events.
Well, in Florida, that’s where we find ourselves now. I never thought I’d actually see first hand how people can become intoxicated by lies and hate but that’s what I see now. What many are passing as “patriotism” and “following God’s teachings” are actually doing the opposite.
I sincerely hope DeSantis gets crushed in the caucus’s and primaries. I hope the rest of America can see through the hypocrisy that he represents. Sometime down the road, all this garbage DeSantis and his ilk have made into law in Florida will be reversed but it will take the election of patriots to get to that point.
Simple Solution W/Transparency says
This process needs a better review period. One “parent” challenging a title using a template provided by M4L, is not sufficient. The challenging “parent” needs to go to a public school board meeting, w/said book, & read the passages they object to & state why, w/o using hatful language. State substantively why said book is inappropriate. They need a counterpoint from a parent stating why the book is not objectionable, & why it’s appropriate, as not all parents object to book removals/reclassifying. Once all is said & done, it rolls out for a vote by parent’s of actual students, of which I’ll outline later.
I placed the objecting parent in quotes because the entire process is flawed. I can submit a book challenge & I don’t have kids. I can go to a M4L forum, download a template, & use that for my challenge, just change the book & the author. Using Amanda Gorman, as an example. Her book of poetry was removed from grades 2-4, & the objector listed, “non-educational & racism,” then listed pages 12-13. I have that book. On pages 12-13, it’s a clever poem talking about the “just is” of justice. No race. No imaginary CRT (which is only taught in law school). There is no reason this book was removed. It’s very much in the reading range of average to above-average 2nd graders. It was challenged by a white supremacist w/ties to the Proud Boys. The challenger? A Hispanic woman that didn’t even list the correct author. She listed the author as Oprah Winfrey. I guess to them one black woman is all black women.
This is where these challenges fall apart. Not only do we have pre-filled templates on-line telling people what to say, we have very specific books being targeted, primarily books written by or about any POC, women authors, books discussing the holocaust, or any by LGBTQ, namely a book about a real-life pair of male penguins at a zoo. One parent, should not have this control. The school board should also have no say, as they are politically motivated & some are associated with M4L, a terrorist group funded by the Koch brothers and Leonard Leo.
Here is a simple solution. Each school district should create a website. With each book brought up for review due to “parental” objection, they load the image of said book, w/the objected pages/sections listed, & allow all parents a vote. In order to vote, you need to enter either your child’s name, their DOB, their school-ID, something that identifies you as a parent of an actual student. A simple SQL lookup table will allow this to happen with ease. Popular vote wins—book is shelved, or book is retained. All person’s that voted for objecting, their child will be restricted from reading said book, as the librarian/teacher will be given a list of parent’s that accept or decline said reading material. This is a simple setup that I could program in a few hours, test, and roll out in less than a week. It’s 100% transparent. EVERY parent can exercise THEIR parental rights, & one “parent” cannot disrupt the education of others. You want true parental rights? It must account for all parent’s, not just one.
Is the Bible on the list?
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Ronald justice says
My God; are all of y’all that stupid? quit drinking this websites kool aid and do your own research. all these books you can buy and teach your children as a good parent would; if thats what you want to do? if these books y’all are complaining about aren’t that bad then why doesn’t this website show the pictures inside the books and not just the cover of the books? please show the pictures of whats inside these books and do not “pick and choose” show all of them on this website please i dare you. MORE TRANSPARENCY on this website i want pictures dammit so the whole world can see what’s really going on. Our great governor is trying to protect our kids just like a movie pg-13 remember that? what does that mean? next they will be wanting to legalize being a “minor attracted person” which we use to call a “child predator/molester” is that okay too? I think not!!
Welcome to the Evangelical Inquisition. The very word”Index” evokes the smell of burning human flesh. Good thing history has been purged