Florida Teachers Hide Their Books to Avoid Felonies – The Nation

Florida Teachers Hide Their Books to Avoid Felonies – The Nation

Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family, and education programs at the Utah Pride Center, poses with books that have been the subject of complaints from parents in recent weeks in Salt Lake City on December 16, 2021. (Rick Bowmer / AP Photo)

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It’s not just the ridiculous “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” or restrictions on discussing issues of gender and sexuality in early grades or last week’s decision not to allow an Advanced Placement African American Studies course to be taught in Florida high schools. Governor Ron DeSantis’s crusade against independent thought is leading to bare bookshelves in classrooms as teachers panic about whether their own classroom libraries violate state law.

Last year DeSantis signed HB 1467, which barred pornography and “age inappropriate” books and required that all reading materials “be suited to student needs.” But school district administrators haven’t been clear about how they’re going to ascertain that. This month school officials instructed teachers in Manatee and Duval counties to either remove books from classrooms or cover them up with paper sheeting until the districts come up with a way to ensure that none of the reading material ran afoul of the new law. Teachers who don’t make sure their books pass DeSantis’s muster are risking up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying a forbidden book, which is a third-degree felony.

Some school districts, including Manatee and Duval, seemed unprepared to create a process whereby all books displayed in classrooms are “reviewed by a media specialist using the Florida Department of Education guidelines.” They then have to be “presented and approved” at a special school meeting and finally “signed off by the principal.” In Duval County, which comprises Jacksonville, PEN America found that 176 titles had already been banned, including at least one Berenstain Bears book; biographies of Henry Aaron, Harriet Tubman, Celia Cruz, Rosa Parks, and Malala; a preponderance of books about non-white children and families; as well as those dealing with sexual themes. Weirdly, many focus on stories centered around ethnic foods: Dim Sum, Dim Sum For Everyone!, Dumpling Soup, and Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story are all verboten in Duval.

Across the nation, PEN America counts found 2,532 instances of individual books’ being banned, affecting 1,648 book titles. Florida ranks third among all 50 states in book bans, according to PEN, behind Texas and Pennsylvania.

Administrators at Broward and Miami-Dade County schools told local reporters this week that they are not currently restricting what’s available in classroom libraries. But Moms for Liberty, a right-wing education pressure group also active in crusading …….

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiTGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnRoZW5hdGlvbi5jb20vYXJ0aWNsZS9wb2xpdGljcy9ib29rLWJhbnMtZmxvcmlkYS1wdWJsaWMtc2Nob29scy_SAVJodHRwczovL3d3dy50aGVuYXRpb24uY29tL2FydGljbGUvcG9saXRpY3MvYm9vay1iYW5zLWZsb3JpZGEtcHVibGljLXNjaG9vbHMvdG5hbXAv?oc=5