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The lives upended by Florida’s school book wars

Washington Post (read free): “…The battle over what children should be allowed to read in school has riven Florida’s Escambia County School District. It’s part of a national battle, as school book objections surge to historic highs across the country. In Escambia County, the controversy kicked off in 2022, when a high school language arts teacher, Vicki Baggett, challenged more than 100 books for what she called inappropriate content. The challenges would spur the removal or restriction of scores of titles, contribute to the superintendent’s termination and draw an ongoing federal lawsuit that seeks to restore the books and alleges district officials have violated students’ and teachers’ constitutional rights. Over the course of a year, The Washington Post interviewed people on all sides of the debate in Escambia County schools to understand how the spike in book challenges affected how they live, learn and read. (Baggett, the prolific challenger, denied several interview requests.) These are their stories — shared in their own words. Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity. Contacted about The Post’s reporting, the Escambia district sent a one-sentence statement: “Thanks for reaching out, but we are unable to comment on pending litigation.”

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