Manatee County, Florida teachers are taking extra precautions to ensure their classroom libraries remain compliant with the recent law that mandates all books must be vetted and approved by a certified media specialist.
As a result, many have had to cover up book collections or deny access altogether while they wait for clearance from school administrators.
All Unapproved Books Ordered To Be Removed
On Monday, Kevin Chapman, the chief of staff for Manatee County School District, revealed that all unapproved books must be removed from classroom libraries.
He noted this was due to strict laws which would see teachers potentially charged with a felony if unvetted literature is made available to students.
Many classrooms have chosen prevention over access, as these new guidelines are strictly enforced in schools across the district.
Unapproved books should be set aside until they are vetted and catalogued. Otherwise, collections should not be covered up or hidden away, officials said.
— Marc R. Masferrer (@MRMasferrer) January 25, 2023
The district could not issue a mandate to teachers, but they strongly suggested classroom libraries remain shuttered and concealed.
The Manatee district has taken an important step in protecting students from depraved materials and unsolicited ideologies.
A new policy, necessitated by HB 1467’s requirement for educational media specialists to select reading material, stipulates schoolbooks must be free of pornography and suitable for their age group.
The State Board of Education also demands certified employees refrain from introducing theories that might lead to unintended student indoctrination setting a precedent across Florida schools.
So many outraged thinking the Florida Education Board / DeSantis “banned all books” from classrooms. Do your research 🙄Teachers are to remove unapproved books, including pornography and books containing “images of masturbation and explicit descriptions of sexual encounters.” SMH
— Jennifer Greenberg (@JennMGreenberg) January 23, 2023
Attack on Fundamental Rights
Manatee High School history teacher Don Falls recently spoke out against a district-wide book censorship policy.
Falls ended up citing the “ridiculous” and concerning attack against the people’s fundamental rights, as several of his colleagues have already covered up their bookshelves.
Falls stated that due to the sheer volume of books he owns —several hundred in total— it would be nearly impossible for him to run every single one through the vetting process asked by school administrators.
He ultimately believes no block should exist on written material coming into classrooms across Florida’s education system. Don Falls, a Florida teacher and First Amendment rights activist, has taken Governor DeSantis to court over the Stop WOKE Act.
This controversial act seeks to ban critical race theory from being taught in schools – even though it is not part of any curriculum. The fight for civil liberties continues as Falls stands up against this potentially unconstitutional law.
Jean Faulk, a teacher in the halls of Bayshore High School, is feeling the effects of political censorship. She must remove literature on democracy and writings from Founding Father John Adams, due to lack of vetting.
After unwillingly clearing her library shelves but reference books alone, Faulk spoke out. “It’s obvious that this decision has nothing to do with educating our students. It’s purely politically driven,” condemned the educator without hesitation.