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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

I’m a teacher in Florida. Here’s what the DeSantis book bans look like in my classroom

The Guardian: “A new crackdown on books in Florida schools has had a chilling effect in classrooms. “I’m done! I’m done! What do I do now?” Every teacher, in every classroom, hears this many (thousands) of times daily from their students. In my classroom, for more than a decade, the answer has always been “Get a book and read.” That is until last week when I was told to pack up my classroom library until further notice. The state of Florida, where I teach, has passed vague laws on what books teachers can and cannot have in their classrooms. The next day my first group of students entered and immediately asked, ‘Where are all of our books Mrs. Phillips?’ Our books. Not mine, but theirs. House Bill 1467, signed by Governor DeSantis in March of last year, basically states that schools must be transparent in their selection of instructional, library, and reading materials. Meaning that parents have the right to know what their students are reading and a means to view those materials. All materials must be free of pornography, gender identity issues (for students in Kindergarten through third grade), as well as any books relating to discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin. The books must also be approved by a certificated media specialist. On the surface, this seems reasonable, but it goes much deeper. The bill does not name specific books to ban, nor a system in which to vet the books. It does, however, come with a fear-mongering threat of a class three felony, which could cause a teacher to lose not only their teaching certificate, but their right to vote as well…”

At the Supreme Court, ethics questions over a spouse’s business ties

The New York Times: “After Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her career as a law firm partner to become a high-end legal recruiter in an effort to alleviate potential conflicts of interest. Jane Roberts later recalled in an interview that her husband’s job made it… Continue Reading

Records Released In Response to Presidential Records Act (PRA) questions under the Trump Administration

NARA: “NARA officials are often consulted about the management of presidential and federal records. The Presidential Records Act governs access to records after the end of an administration. The National Archives received records from the Trump Administration, which ended on January 20, 2021. We are in the process of preserving and providing access to these records, including all… Continue Reading

Do classified document revelations highlight problems at the National Archives?

The American Prospect – “Presidential Document Scandals Should Take Down America’s Secrecy Industry We classify way too many documents. Unfortunately, that will probably not be the takeaway from recent events. America has a problem with classified information. But this problem isn’t the one you’ve been hearing about for the past few weeks, with the revelations… Continue Reading

Florida teachers told to remove books from classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution

My Sun Coast: “Manatee County Schools Spokesperson Michael Barber confirms that communication has been sent to principals of schools to vet books teachers have in their classroom. In December, House Bill 1467 stated that School Library and Instructional Materials requires school district to adopt procedures for determining and reviewing content for library media centers. This… Continue Reading

Justice – Official Site

Jezebel – “It’s been nearly five years since Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate in a 50-48 vote—despite allegations of sexual misconduct by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez and about 4,500 other tips that the FBI seemingly just kind of ignored. Justice, a new documentary about the botched… Continue Reading

Students want new books. Thanks to restrictions, librarians can’t buy them.

Washington Post: Schools are struggling to keep their shelves stocked as oversight by parents and school boards intensifies – “States and districts nationwide have begun to constrain what librarians can order. At least 10 states have passed laws giving parents more power over which books appear in libraries or limiting students’ access to books, a… Continue Reading

Biden’s New Open Government Plan Lays Out a Progressive Regulatory Reform Agenda

Center for Progressive Reform: “In case you missed it, the Biden administration capped off 2022 with the release of a new “open government” plan that aims to improve access to federal data and information, better engage the public in the regulatory process, and streamline delivery of government services and benefits. While the 21-page document —… Continue Reading

Unbanning Books: LJ’s 2023 Librarians of the Year

Library Journal: “Brooklyn Public Library’s Nick Higgins, Amy Mikel, Karen Keys, Jackson Gomes, and Leigh Hurwitz have been named LJ’s 2023 Librarians of the Year for their work on Books Unbanned, providing free ebook access to teens and young adults nationwide to help defy rising book challenges across the country. In 2022 Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned Team began… Continue Reading

Mastodon and the pros and cons of moving beyond Big Tech gatekeepers

Ars Technica: “As Elon Musk’s Category 5 tweetstorm continues, the once-obscure Mastodon social network has been gaining over 1,000 new refugees per hour, every hour, bringing its user count to about eight million. Joining as a user is pretty easy. More than enough ex-Twitterers are happy finding a Mastodon instance via joinmastodon.org, getting a list… Continue Reading

America’s culture warriors are going after librarians

.coda: “…It’s a tale playing out in cities and states across the country, as a book-banning fever courses through the country’s body politic. Nationally, attempts to remove books from school and public libraries are shattering previous records. The effort is being driven by a loose collection of local and national conservative parents’ groups and politicians… Continue Reading

Fifth U.S. Open Government National Action Plan

USAGov via White House: “The American people have strived for a more inclusive, accountable, transparent, and responsive government since our Nation’s founding. That spirit is embodied in key milestones across U.S. history, including expansions of the right to vote, broadening of basic civil rights protections to ensure dignity and equal treatment, improving protections for press… Continue Reading