A Florida school district is starting to “list the books” under legislation sponsored by DeSantis


Efforts are underway in Florida states to defeat a law advocated by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that requires the licensing of books in classroom libraries.

Manatee County teachers are “fearful” and “confused” as the district works to implement HB 1467, which would require textbooks to be pre-approved materials or reviewed by a Department-trained content specialist of Florida Education, according to Pat Barber, president of the Manatee Education Association, the county’s teachers union.

A document issued by the district introducing the new legislative changes to HB 1467 indicates that the violation can be considered a third offense.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that teachers should be in a position where their good job of providing classroom libraries for their students to instill a love of reading can be criminalized,” Barber told CNN.

The library provision, which went into effect in July after being signed by DeSantis last year, requires library media materials to be approved by “a school district employee with a valid educational content certification,” according to the June invitation. According to the Florida Department of Education, which issued guidance memos as recently as December, a selection of library materials — including classroom libraries — must be “free of pornography” and material. prohibited under the law, “suitable to the needs of students and their ability to understand the information provided,” and “appropriate for grade level and age.”

“A teacher (or an adult) faces a criminal offense if he intentionally distributes obscene material, such as images that show sexual behavior, sex, sex with an animal or horrific abuse. Who can be against that?” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. tweeted Wednesday to protect the balance.

The controversial law marks one of several attempts by DeSantis to legislate what can be taught in Florida schools — a public position that has raised his national profile as he is said to be a 2024 presidential contender. This alone, the governor commented for the first time on the state’s rejection of a proposed new AP course on African American studies for setting what he called a “political agenda.”

CNN has reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment.

Marie Masferrer with the Florida Association for Media in Education asked school board members during Tuesday’s meeting to give students access to books in classrooms while the materials are being cataloged and checked. “Open the classroom libraries while the process can continue,” he said.

Don Falls, who teaches government and economics at Manatee High School, told CNN that teachers have been told they can put their classroom libraries in boxes, cover them or enter the books into the district’s catalog system. check their approval and save them. shelves. He chose to cover his books with writing paper.

“I think it’s a strong statement to hide them. “My students asked me what was going on, and although I didn’t have many details, I informed them about the restrictions placed on books from the district to the state,” said Falls. , who is in his 38th year of teaching in the district.

He added: “I don’t have the time or feel like I need to read all these books and put them into the system.” It’s really wrong for me and my students’ First Amendment rights.”

On Tuesday, Laurie Breslin, Manatee County’s chief curriculum officer, said some teachers may have decided to withhold access to books because they lack time to catalog their classroom libraries and to verify if titles have been approved in advance. But Breslin pointed out that teachers are allowed to give students pre-approved reading materials, and students have access to books in the school’s main library.

“This is to protect the teachers, let’s say we ban the books,” said School Board Chairman Chad Choate III.

While battles over access to controversial textbooks have been fought state by state, and even school by school, Republican-controlled states including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas have pushed through statewide laws enabling reviewers. removing titles they don’t like in school. libraries in every community.

In Manatee County, the school district confirmed to CNN that it is continuing to “index” books in classrooms to ensure compliance with the law.

Kevin Chapman, Superintendent of the Manatee County School District, said volunteers are working with teachers to organize classroom inventories and check that books are in the checked inventory. If a book is not an accepted book, it must be reviewed by a trained media expert, he said.

The chapter met with the elders last week to explain to them how the chapter intends to implement the new law, according to Chapman. He said he did not know about the books that had been withdrawn since last week’s meeting, but he said that there were books that had been withdrawn since the beginning of the school year because they were considered inappropriate.

“We know this is going to be a process and we want them to be right,” he said. “It’s a big job.”

Asked to respond to critics who say enforcement is enforcement, Chapman said, “The Manatee School District is just following the law.”

At a school board meeting in Pinellas County, Florida, Tuesday night, school officials confirmed that they are also working to align their policies with the needs of the state. The library’s media specialist team reviewed 94 book titles over the summer “for age appropriateness,” said Dan Evans, associate director of teaching and learning services.

“That group recommended 10 titles be removed from our collections or moved to our adult-only library,” Evans said, adding that the process was something the school district created and it is “more than what the government needs.”

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