By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Calling it a move toward “curriculum transparency,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that will intensify scrutiny of school library books and instructional materials and impose 12-year term limits on school board members.
Lawmakers approved the measure (HB 1467) during the legislative session that ended March 14.
Under the bill, school boards will be required to adopt procedures that, in part, provide for the “regular removal or discontinuance” of books from media centers based on factors such as alignment to state academic standards.
Elementary schools will be required to publish online lists of all materials maintained in school libraries or that are part of school reading lists.
DeSantis signed the bill at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, joined by Republican lawmakers and parents who described books that they opposed in their children’s school libraries. The parents described books that included such things as sexual content.
The governor, who has targeted what he calls “indoctrination” in schools, said parents developed a heightened awareness about school instruction and materials during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many students were forced to temporarily learn online.
“Parents became exposed more to what was going on in some of the schools. So they became more interested in making sure that, one, their kids weren’t being forced to do things like (wear) masks. And they go to school board meetings, which is obviously important. But also, parents want education for their kids. They’re not interested in indoctrination through the school system,” DeSantis said.
The bill would increase parental involvement in the process of selecting books and materials for classrooms. For instance, meetings held for “ranking, eliminating or selecting” instructional materials for recommendation to school boards will be required to include parents of district students.
When books are removed from schools “as a result of an objection,” the state Department of Education will be responsible for publishing a list of the books and providing it to districts throughout the state “for consideration in their selection procedures.”
DeSantis called the changes in the bill “well-meaning reforms.”
“What ends up being in that classroom or in that library … the parent doesn’t necessarily have control. But at that point, once it’s there or going to be proposed, you have the opportunity to review. There’s procedures that will be in place. And, if it violates state standards, if it’s not consistent with what we’ve set out under Florida law, then the parent can prevail,” DeSantis said.
Some Democrats and other critics have compared the bill to “book-burning” practices of authoritarian governments.
“In the age of the internet, where endless information is quite literally one keystroke, one click away, do we really want to join the likes of dictators across the world and allow the banning and possibly burning of books?” Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation, asked while debating the bill this month.
The Florida Freedom to Read Project, an Orange County-based group formed this year to oppose efforts to step up scrutiny of school books, decried the bill’s signing Friday.
“HB 1467 is now signed into law. This law will allow the most conservative communities the opportunity to censor school libraries throughout the state. FL is a diverse state with large, progressive and inclusive communities. This law is unconstitutional,” the group said in a Twitter post.
At the bill-signing event, DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and lawmakers also touted the part of the bill placing term limits on school board members.
Corcoran pointed to several school boards that defied DeSantis directives last year by requiring students to wear masks during the pandemic.
“There’s no greater accountability than telling a politician, your career ends, dead-certain, at this point in time,” Corcoran, a former state House speaker, said. “Having term limits for school board members is long overdue.”
Critics of the proposal have argued that term limits aren’t needed, as elections already give voters the opportunity to remove school board members from office.
DeSantis suggested that elections are just another option.
“I’m a big believer in term limits. But you don’t always have to wait for that,” DeSantis said. “You can throw the bums out in the election.”
In Ukraine, men from 18-60 years are not allowed to leave the country. They are required to stay and fight. This includes “trans-women”; they have been ordered to stay and fight with the other men.
So, a country gets invaded and overnight, the people sober up and there is no such thing as “trans-women”, toxic masculinity or any other absurdity.
I hope our country doesn’t need a nightmare to sober up.
@ pissed off… agreed, but I would be comfortable with 2 4-year terms. We do have to get more aggressive in our defense of morality and common sense.
You simply cannot continue to take the “high ground” when dealing with a group for which there is no high ground.
A 12 year term limit (realize this your child’s entire public re-education) is not the answer.
This should be 4 year term limit (at most).
Stop being passive, call a man a man(not a women).
We have to be willing to get as dirty as our opponents.
If we don’t stop it now, no one will.
A 12 year term limit is good. An 8 year term limit is better. A 4 year term limit would be best and made even more appealing if there were no salary, the Board member had a child in school and was not a retired teacher or school administrator.
@LP You’re exactly right.
What these radical politicians keep forgetting is these students are children and they have parents and their parents have rights. All good parents censor what their children are exposed to. I bet even they censor what their children are exposed to. Enough of the faux drama.
Education dollars should follow the student based on the wishes of their parents. (That’s a period)
Send your kids to the schools that match your values. What’s so difficult about this?