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Hide your books to avoid felony charges, Fla. schools tell teachers

Washington Post – Unsure what titles violate new state rules, two school districts tell educators to conceal every book for now..Students arrived in some Florida public school classrooms this month to find their teachers’ bookshelves wrapped in paper — or entirely barren of books — after district officials launched a review of the texts’ appropriateness under a new state law. School officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, have directed teachers this month to remove or wrap up their classroom libraries, according to records obtained by The Washington Post. The removals come in response to fresh guidance issued by the Florida Department of Education in mid-January, after the State Board of Education ruled that a law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to schoolwide libraries but to teachers’ classroom collections, too. House Bill 1467, which took effect as law in July, mandates that schools’ books be age-appropriate, free from pornography and “suited to student needs.” Books must be approved by a qualified school media specialist, who must undergo a state retraining on book collection. The Education Department did not publish that training until January, leaving school librarians across Florida unable to order books for more than a year…In Duval County, the district published a brief blog post on Jan. 23 announcing that, after “recent training and direction from the state, Duval County Public schools will now conduct a formal review of classroom libraries.” Two days later, the district shared with staffers a private, unlisted YouTube video titled “Classroom Libraries.” In the seven-minute video, obtained by The Post, Chief Academic Officer Paula Renfro announced that “classroom libraries will be temporarily reduced to only include … books that have been approved by certified media specialists and books on the state-approved” list…”

See also HuffPo: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he plans to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs in every Florida university, another move in his push to upend higher education in the state. The governor and potential 2024 presidential hopeful laid out a list of higher education “reforms” his administration aims to carry out, including banning DEI programs that help universities create a more supportive and inclusive space for staff and students from marginalized backgrounds. The state legislature will need to approve the plans before they go into effect. “We are also going to eliminate all DEI and [critical race theory] bureaucracies in the state of Florida. No funding, and that will wither on the vine,” DeSantis said. “And I think that that’s very important because it really serves as an ideological filter, a political filter.” The governor equated mandatory DEI trainings as “imposing an agenda” that constitutes “a drain on resources,” and claimed that having universities include diversity statements is no different than “making people take a political oath.”

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