Banning books in schools (2 Viewers)

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    Optimus Prime

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    Excellent article I thought deserved its own thread
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    On the surface, it would appear that book censors and censored authors like myself can agree on one thing: Books are powerful.

    Particularly books for children and teens.

    Why else would people like me spend so much time and energy writing them?

    Why else would censors spend so much time and energy trying to keep them out of kids’ hands?

    In a country where the average adult is reading fewer and fewer books, it’s a surprise to find Americans arguing so much about them.

    In this election year, parents and politicians — so many politicians — are jumping into the fray to say how powerful books can be.

    Granted, politicians often make what I do sound like witchcraft, but I take this as a compliment.

    I’ll admit, one of my first thoughts about the current wildfire of attempted censorship was: How quaint.

    Conservatives seemed to be dusting off their playbook from 1958, when the only way our stories could get to kids was through schools and libraries.

    While both are still crucial sanctuaries for readers, they’re hardly the only options. Plenty of booksellers supply titles that are taken off school shelves.

    And words can be very widely shared free of charge on social media and the rest of the internet. If you take my book off a shelf, you keep it away from that shelf, but you hardly keep it away from readers.

    As censorship wars have raged in so many communities, damaging the lives of countless teachers, librarians, parents and children, it’s begun to feel less and less quaint.

    This is not your father’s book censorship…..

    Here’s something I never thought I’d be nostalgic for: sincere censors. When my first novel, “Boy Meets Boy,” was published in 2003, it was immediately the subject of many challenges, some of which kept the book from ever getting on a shelf in the first place.

    At the time, a challenge usually meant one parent trying to get a book pulled from a school or a library, going through a formal process.

    I often reminded myself to try to find some sympathy for these parents; yes, they were wrong, and their desire to control what other people in the community got to read was wrong — but more often than not, the challenge was coming from fear of a changing world, a genuine (if incorrect) belief that being gay would lead kids straight to ruination and hell, and/or the misbegotten notion that if all the books that challenged the (homophobic, racist) status quo went away, then the status quo would remain intact.

    It was, in some ways, as personal to them as it was to those of us on the other side of the challenge.

    And nine times out of 10, the book would remain on the shelf.

    It’s not like that now. What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books.

    We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war.

    The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country.

    Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned.

    Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate.

    The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books.

    They are using our books to scare people.

     
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    this is something I guess although it seems to be more for people challenging the Bible and Shakespeare

    "No, this was supposed to be for books we don't like!"
    ====================================
    The Florida Senate approved a bill Tuesday with a provision for placing a cap of one book challenge per month for people who don’t have students enrolled in the school district in which they placed an objection.

    The vote came after the Legislature’s top leaders expressed the need to rein in frivolous objections to materials available in classrooms and libraries.

    Lawmakers have been weighing different options to curtail objections following sweeping book challenges that have disrupted Florida school districts across the state. Most of the options discussed targeted people who aren’t parents of students in the districts in which they challenge materials.

    The vote was along party lines, with Democrats opposing the bill (HB 1285).

    But the House had already approved a $100 “processing fee” on subsequent challenges filed by people who have already unsuccessfully challenged five materials available in a school district where they don’t have children enrolled. So, the House has to approve HB 1285 again before the session ends.

    Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said she hoped the provision senators approved today would be the final product.

    “What happened is people went overboard and they started objecting to the classics like Shakespeare, which I think is ridiculous,” Passidomo told reporters on Tuesday. “So it’s like everything. We needed to rein that in, and the devil’s in the details and the kind of language and how to do that. But I think we’re on the right course.”............

     
    this is something I guess although it seems to be more for people challenging the Bible and Shakespeare

    "No, this was supposed to be for books we don't like!"
    ====================================
    The Florida Senate approved a bill Tuesday with a provision for placing a cap of one book challenge per month for people who don’t have students enrolled in the school district in which they placed an objection.

    The vote came after the Legislature’s top leaders expressed the need to rein in frivolous objections to materials available in classrooms and libraries.

    Lawmakers have been weighing different options to curtail objections following sweeping book challenges that have disrupted Florida school districts across the state. Most of the options discussed targeted people who aren’t parents of students in the districts in which they challenge materials.

    The vote was along party lines, with Democrats opposing the bill (HB 1285).

    But the House had already approved a $100 “processing fee” on subsequent challenges filed by people who have already unsuccessfully challenged five materials available in a school district where they don’t have children enrolled. So, the House has to approve HB 1285 again before the session ends.

    Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said she hoped the provision senators approved today would be the final product.

    “What happened is people went overboard and they started objecting to the classics like Shakespeare, which I think is ridiculous,” Passidomo told reporters on Tuesday. “So it’s like everything. We needed to rein that in, and the devil’s in the details and the kind of language and how to do that. But I think we’re on the right course.”............


    ================
    Under the bill, the State Board of Education would “adopt rules to allow for the issuance of a classical education teaching certificate. Upon the request of a classical school, the DOE (Department of Education) will issue a classical education teaching certificate to any applicant who fulfills the requirements for a professional certificate except for demonstrating mastery of general knowledge, subject area knowledge, and professional preparation and education competence,” according to the staff analysis.
    ================

    That's definitely what you want in a teacher. :jpshakehead:

    Republicans can't help but clown themselves.
     
    ================
    Under the bill, the State Board of Education would “adopt rules to allow for the issuance of a classical education teaching certificate. Upon the request of a classical school, the DOE (Department of Education) will issue a classical education teaching certificate to any applicant who fulfills the requirements for a professional certificate except for demonstrating mastery of general knowledge, subject area knowledge, and professional preparation and education competence,” according to the staff analysis.
    ================

    That's definitely what you want in a teacher. :jpshakehead:

    Republicans can't help but clown themselves.
    Soooo…religionist whack jobs. Got it. Classical education teacher teaches kids that the earth is 6000 years and that the sun revolves around the earth.

    This country deserves the idiots they elect.
     
    In the two years since Ron DeSantis signed legislation sparking a tidal wave of book-banningin Florida’s classrooms, the Republican governor has blamed the ensuing chaos on a succession of foils – including teachers, librarians, the news media and political opponents.

    Now, another group has joined those in his crosshairs: school principals. A proposed new rule by an education standards committee led by a DeSantis loyalist seeks to impose penalties on administrators deemed to have obstructed the state’s view of what students should be reading.

    The rule was pitched by Randy Kosec, head of the professional practices office that investigates educator misconduct, earlier this month after the governor requested officials to “fine-tune” the process by which books are challenged in schools.


    It would introduce possible sanctions or other penalties to principals who prevent, or allow others to prevent, students’ access to unspecified “educational materials”.

    DeSantis’s education commissioner, Manny Diaz, and a handpicked board of education will discuss the proposal’s merits next month, although critics have already made up their minds. They say the move to target administrators is an effort to blunt a growing backlash to Florida’s nation-leading crusade to remove books it considers inappropriate because of sexual or race-related content, and the latest finger-pointing by DeSantis for a mess of his own making.

    The governor conceded last month that “bad actors”, such as the far-right Moms for Libertygroup, had taken advantage of his parental rights in education act to file “frivolous challenges” that were swamping school districts.

    “This is another scapegoating, but at the end of the day it’s an admission by this administration that they know there’s a problem,” said Katie Blankenship, Florida director of PEN America, which recorded 1,406 book ban incidents in the state in the 2022 school year, 40% of the national total.

    “Book bans in our state have spiraled out of control and DeSantis and Diaz know it. Their actual job would be to fix the bill, but using this ‘it’s not our fault’ scapegoating, it’s not addressing the harm the law is doing.”……..

     
    Some of Florida’s loudest advocates for public school book removals make up half of a state government-sponsored group to advise school districts on how to select titles and when to pull them off shelves.

    Moms for Liberty members made up three of six members of a Department of Education workgroup that met Thursday in Tallahassee to redevelop an online training program for school librarians and media specialists following a 2023 state law focused on book challenges.

    It’s a demonstration of the state’s willingness to cater to the conservative group, which has long supported Gov. Ron DeSantis and, along with its local chapters, has become the leading voice against books in schools that it considers inappropriate.

    “It’s evident that the Florida Department of Education is not ready to turn a corner and start tamping down on the gross censorship we’re seeing across the state,” said Stephana Ferrell, co-founder and director of research and insight for the Florida Freedom to Read Project, a book access advocacy organization.

    Ferrell had applied to be a part of the workgroup. So did more than 20 others, according to resumes her group received through a public records request. Most, like Ferrell herself, weren’t picked.

    Instead, the department selected Priscilla West, chair of Moms For Liberty-Leon County, Moms for Liberty Indian River County Chapter Chair Jennifer Pippin and Jamie Merchant, Florida legislative chair for the national parents’ group.

    West and Pippin, in an interview after the meeting in the state Department of Education building, emphasized their role as parents, not just Moms for Liberty representatives.

    “Organizations aside, at the end of the day, we’re parents, we’re moms and we’re concerned with what we’re finding in the schools,” Pippin said.

    And they were also concerned about the meeting, which lasted approximately an hour. Advocates on both sides of the book debate said it didn’t do enough to clarify the expectations for schools..............

     
    Some of Florida’s loudest advocates for public school book removals make up half of a state government-sponsored group to advise school districts on how to select titles and when to pull them off shelves.

    Moms for Liberty members made up three of six members of a Department of Education workgroup that met Thursday in Tallahassee to redevelop an online training program for school librarians and media specialists following a 2023 state law focused on book challenges.

    It’s a demonstration of the state’s willingness to cater to the conservative group, which has long supported Gov. Ron DeSantis and, along with its local chapters, has become the leading voice against books in schools that it considers inappropriate.

    “It’s evident that the Florida Department of Education is not ready to turn a corner and start tamping down on the gross censorship we’re seeing across the state,” said Stephana Ferrell, co-founder and director of research and insight for the Florida Freedom to Read Project, a book access advocacy organization.

    Ferrell had applied to be a part of the workgroup. So did more than 20 others, according to resumes her group received through a public records request. Most, like Ferrell herself, weren’t picked.

    Instead, the department selected Priscilla West, chair of Moms For Liberty-Leon County, Moms for Liberty Indian River County Chapter Chair Jennifer Pippin and Jamie Merchant, Florida legislative chair for the national parents’ group.

    West and Pippin, in an interview after the meeting in the state Department of Education building, emphasized their role as parents, not just Moms for Liberty representatives.

    “Organizations aside, at the end of the day, we’re parents, we’re moms and we’re concerned with what we’re finding in the schools,” Pippin said.

    And they were also concerned about the meeting, which lasted approximately an hour. Advocates on both sides of the book debate said it didn’t do enough to clarify the expectations for schools..............

    Concerned with what they are finding in schools, my azz. What a pile of schlitz.
     
    Abill that would have held school librarians and teachers criminally responsible for providing “obscene material” to Nebraska students in grades K-12 failed to break a filibuster Wednesday in the Legislature.

    But heated debate over it led the body’s Republican Speaker of the Legislature to slash debate times in half on bills he deemed as covering “social issues” for the remaining 13 days of the session.

    State Sen. Joni Albrecht, who introduced the bill, said it simply would close a "loophole” in the state’s existing obscenity laws that prohibit adults from giving such material to minors. But critics panned it as a way for a vocal minority to ban books they don’t like from school and public library shelves............

     
    At a recent hearing in Annapolis, librarians, educators and other supporters advocated for House Bill 785.

    "Extreme groups are trying to ban books in our public schools and our public libraries," Cheryl Bost, President of the Maryland State Education Association told 7News.

    Bost backs the legislation sponsored by Maryland Delegate Dana Jones of Anne Arundel County.

    "This is critically important because it's not only keeping literature on the shelves, but it's also protecting librarians from punitive damage," Jones said.

    Since 2019, Jones told 7News, there's been a 133% increase in formal challenges to library collections and a 600% increase in threats to library staff.

    HB 785, known as the Freedom to Read Act, would require school systems to establish a uniform process for submitting an objection to materials in a school library and would prevent school boards from retaliating against librarians and support staff.

    The action comes after the Carroll County Board of Education passed a policy to restrict access to books deemed "sexually explicit" earlier this year...........

     
    Should we worry, as massive book-banning efforts imply, that young people will be harmed by certain kinds of books? For over a decade and through hundreds of interviews, my colleague, literacy professor Peter Johnston, and I have studied how adolescents experience reading when they have unfettered access to young adult literature. Our findings suggest that many are helped rather than harmed by such reading.

    For one study, we spent a year in a public middle school in a small, mid-Atlantic town, observing and talking to eighth grade students whose teachers, rather than assigning the “classics” or traditional academic texts, let students choose what to read and gave them time to read daily in class. To support student engagement, they made available hundreds of contemporary books that are relevant to the students’ lives.

    The books included many of the titles currently being challenged, according to PEN America, which is a nonprofit that advocates against censorship, among other things. The titles include Ellen Hopkins’ “Identical,” Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why,” Patricia McCormick’s “Sold,” and others that were banned because of themes of sex and violence.

    We were interested in what the students perceived to be the consequences of reading young adult literature. They tended to read books they described as “disturbing.” At the end of the school year, we interviewed 71 of the students about changes in their reading and relationships with peers and family.

    We also asked open-ended questions about how, if at all, they had changed as people since the beginning of the year. Beyond reading substantially more than they had previously, they reported positive changes in their social, emotional and intellectual lives that they attributed to reading, the kinds of books they read and the conversations those books provoked.

    Here are six ways students told us they had been changed by reading and talking about edgy young adult books.

    1. They became more empathetic​

    The students chose mostly fiction, with characters whose life circumstances in many cases differed from their own, including those associated with race, gender, sexuality, culture, language, mental health and household income. Because fiction provides windows into the minds of others, it has the potential to improve empathy, which becomes more probable when readers get emotionally involved in stories.

    This is consistent with what the students reported. As one student explained after reading a book about a bullied character, “Like when you see people … you think, well, they don’t have problems or whatever, but then some of the ones I’ve read, you can just understand people better.”

    2. They improved relationships​

    The books contained stark realities about humanity. For instance, some books dealt with how children and teens might be exploited by adults or how mental illness might radically affect a person’s behavior.

    Students shared that as they read, they were encountering some of this information for the first time. Their initial instinct, they said, was to find someone else who had read the book and talk about it.

    Consequently, students who rarely talked to each other came together over books. In the process, they learned about each other, became friends or at least developed greater appreciation for each other. They also talked to family members, including parents, some of whom they convinced to read the books.

    Relationships in books made teens rethink their own relationships. “Her mom was all rude to her,” one student recalled about a character. “It kind of had me feeling bad, ‘cause I was rude to my aunt, and my situation could have been worse.”

    Students shared that reading about characters in dire circumstances changed how they thought about their own families. For instance, several admitted that reading a book about a girl their age who was abducted and abused by an adult male made them more likely to listen to their parents’ advice about safety. Others reading that same book reported becoming more protective of siblings.


    3. They became more thoughtful​

    Reading about the decisions characters made gave the teens a chance to see the potential consequences of their own future choices.

    Some described positive characters as role models. Others described using characters who made questionable decisions as cautionary tales and tools of self-reflection.

    Statements such as one student’s comment that “I have changed because I think more about things before I do them” were common and were related to problems teens were already facing or could see on the horizon. These problems included toxic relationships, substance abuse, gang-related activity and risky sexual behaviors.............



     
    Librarians across the country say they’ve become targets in the ongoing battles over books – but the attacks have escalated beyond just calls to remove materials from library shelves.

    Several librarians told ABC News they’re facing threats of physical violence, lawsuits and criminal charges for having what some say is “inappropriate” content in libraries and schools where children can access the materials.

    “We had people threatening to burn down our building,” said Maegan Hanson, a library director in a small Idaho town.

    Hanson’s library had a book on display called “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel by Maia Kobabe. It’s one of the most targeted books in the country because of its LGBTQ content and depictions of sex.

    When parts of the book were posted to Facebook, Hanson said the library began receiving online threats. She said fear began to set in among the small crew who work at the library – some of whom are teens and young adults.

    “We are in this service because we love the communities that we are a part of and the misinformation and the misrepresentation about what we do hasn't stopped us from doing our jobs – it just makes it harder,” Hanson said.

    The Idaho Library Association, which Hanson is a part of, is concerned that tensions and threats will only get worse now that Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed library content restrictions into law on Wednesday.............

     
    On May 23, Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb became part of the long list of books authored by Black people to be banned by counties in Florida. Such books include The Black Friend by Fred T. Joseph and All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Johnson. In Gorman’s case, a single parent filed a complaint for the book to be removed, erroneously citing Oprah as the author, and the inclusion of “critical race theory” as justification for removal.

    Since Gorman performed her poem for President Biden’s Inauguration ceremony two years ago, millions have flocked to her platform, including children. For months on end, photo after photo appeared across social media of kids of all races, genders, and backgrounds sporting Gorman’s iconic yellow coat and bold red headband. Black children especially saw themselves in her braided updo, gleaming eyes, and infectious smile. She was their ordinary, and extraordinary. She was mine, too.

    When I was five years old, I graduated from Head Start, a government program for children of low-income working families, and attended a newly-created, local private school on full scholarship. As one of the few Black children in the school, and the only Black girl in my grade, I became keenly aware that my classmates, who were white and wealthier, did not go home to an affordable housing neighborhood like me. They did not eat the same food as me. Their parents did not work the jobs my parents did. Rather, they lived in detached, single-family houses with green lawns and white picket fences. Their pantries were stocked with snacks I could only dream of.

    Navigating these realities led me to books. At least there, I thought, I could begin to understand the two worlds I stood between.

    As I began to write at the age of seven, I drew inspiration from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Where the Wild Things Are, which eventually led to The Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Junie B. Jones. I loved these stories. They made me laugh, cry, and think. Yet, the harsh reality was that all of these characters shared more similarities with my classmates than ordinary Black girls like me—or like Amanda.

    Books are windows into the ordinary. We read them to see ourselves, to comprehend our lived reality, and sometimes to envision something better. But, as has always been the case, imagination is a privilege, popular narratives often only reflect the few, and any increase in representation is, more often than not, met with backlash. At the onset of Halle Bailey being announced as the new Little Mermaid, the hashtag #NotmyAriel trended online. As more roles in science fiction and fantasy are cast with people from underrepresented groups, more hate seemingly follows.

    A recent study conducted by economists Anjali Adukia, Alex Eble, Emileigh Harrison, Hakizumwami Birali Runesha, and Teodora Szasz found that popular children’s books published in the past century consistently depict characters with lighter skin color, even when they aren’t white. Additionally, the study highlights the underrepresentation of Black and Latinx characters, while white characters are disproportionately overrepresented. Among 495 mainstream children’s books analyzed, 88% of the depicted faces were identified as white, and 92% of the famous figures mentioned were also classified as white. In contrast, the faces of Asian, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous characters collectively accounted for only about 12%. Surprisingly, even books designed to promote diversity still featured over 50% white faces and famous figures among 635 titles.

    These findings are compounded by the fact that books with diverse characters are less likely to receive mainstream children’s book awards – which boost sales more than diversity book awards– had lower library checkout rates, and were consistently more expensive on average than all other children’s books. Not to mention that at least through 2019, Black and Brown people only made up approximately 6% of the publishing industry while white people made up 86%. The added insult to injury is that navigating the industry is notoriously difficult for Black authors, literary agents, bookstore owners, and editors.

    There is a real cost when the stories of ordinary Black children, which are already limited, are ignored by publishing houses or silenced by book bans. By allowing a single bad faith request like that of The Hill We Climb to usurp children from a vibrant rendition of hope and promise, opponents of diverse storytelling are robbing the next generation of an opportunity to be unabashedly curious about the world around them. The question is at what cost?..............


     
    Here are six ways students told us they had been changed by reading and talking about edgy young adult books.
    1. They became more empathetic...
    2. They improved relationships...
    3. They became more thoughtful...
    4. They were happier...
    5. Books helped students heal...
    6. They became better readers...

    I think a major reason people want those books banned is to prevent all 6 of those things from happening. It's hard to control someone and manipulate them into hating if any of those 6 things above happens for them.
     
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    Sam Lee, a leader of the Connecticut Library Association, heads to work these days torn between hope and fear.

    She’s encouraged because legislators in her state proposed a bill this year making it harder for school boards to ban library books. But she’s fearful because Connecticut, like America, is seeing a sustained surge in book challenges — and she wonders if objectors will see the legislation as a reason to file more complaints.

    “I would like to be optimistic,” Lee said. “But having been in my position for the last few years … I don’t know, it really feels like it’s been forever. And I am worried the book banners are just going to be emboldened.”

    The bill in Connecticut, pending before an education committee, is one of a raft of measures advancing nationwide that seek to do things like prohibit book bans or forbid the harassment of school and public librarians — the first such wave in the country, said John Chrastka, director of library advocacy group EveryLibrary. Legislators in 22 mostly blue states have proposed 57 such bills so far this year, and two have become law, according to a Washington Post analysis of state legislative databases and an EveryLibrary legislative tracker.

    But the library-friendly measures are being outpaced by bills in mostly red states that aim to restrict which books libraries can offer and threaten librarians with prison or thousands in fines for handing out “obscene” or “harmful” titles. At least 27 states are considering 100 such bills this year, three of which have become law, The Post found. That adds to nearly a dozen similar measures enacted over the last three years across 10 states.

    Lawmakers proposing restrictive bills contend they are necessary because school and public libraries contain graphic sexual material that should not be available to children. Some books’ “sole purpose is sexual gratification,” said West Virginia Del. Brandon Steele (R), who introduced a bill that would allow librarians to be prosecuted for giving obscene titles to minors.

    “It is strictly about pornography,” Steele said. “On that limited basis, this isn’t going to have the chilling effect people think it’s going to.”

    But other lawmakers say bills like Steele’s are ideologically driven censorship dressed up as concern for children. They note that, as book challenges spiked to historic highs over the past two years, the majority of objections targeted books by and about LGBTQ people and people of color.

    “To attack library books, you’re attacking the ability to learn, grow, think,” said Missouri state Rep. Anthony Ealy (D), who introduced a bill this year to prohibit book bans in public libraries. It “has nothing to do with protecting kids.”

    Chrastka of EveryLibrary said he fears red and blue parts of America are charting different courses for the future of reading.

    “I see an emerging divide about the right to read, the right to access stories about people like you, the right to be yourself in the library,” he said. “We do have two Americas settling into place.”.............


     

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