DeSantis signs Florida bill making it harder to ‘weaponize’ book bans in public schools

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Tuesday that will make it harder for some people to ban books in the state’s public schools.The new law, part of the wide-ranging education bill HB 1285, will cap the number of challenges on school materials that an individual can make per year, if they do not have a student enrolled in that district.DeSantis said the bill will help protect schools from activists trying to politicize and disrupt a district’s book review process.”You have some people who are taking the curriculum transparency, and they’re trying to weaponize that for political purposes,” DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday in Jacksonville.FLORIDA SCHOOL BOARD FORCED TO REMOVE DOZENS OF BOOKS AFTER PARENTS READ ‘GRAPHIC’ PASSAGES ALOUD”And so that involves objecting to normal books.”Previously, there were no limits in place on who could challenge books and other educational materials or how many challenges one person could submit. Under the new bill, individuals without children in the district will be limited to one objection per month, Fox 13 Tampa reports.The bill will, however, ensure that there are unlimited objections for parents with children in the school district, including homeschooled students accessing district materials.Lawmakers have criticized parents on both sides of the political aisle for abusing the system and, at times, overwhelming districts with the number of challenges, Fox 13 reports.PINK HIT WITH COMMUNITY NOTES FOR FALSE CLAIM FL SCHOOLS BANNED ‘TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,’ ‘DIARY OF ANNE FRANK’During the 2022-23 fiscal year, there were more than 1,200 book objections in Florida, according to state records. More than half came from counties Clay and Escambia.”This is designed, like the governor mentioned before, to allow parents to have a say, allow parents to challenge books that shouldn’t be in a school,” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said. “But anyone who creates a cottage industry of going around the state and just creating challenges just to gunk up the system and put school systems in arrears as far as reviewing these books, that person won’t be able to do it anymore.”Florida leads the nation in public school book bans with 1,406 books banned in total, according to a report by the non-profit organization Pen America. That is about 40% of the total book bans reported in the U.S.HB 1285 also aims to simplify the process for parents to remove children from poor-performing schools and incentivize districts to increase the number of Purple Star schools that support military families.School districts and charter schools will be required to provide 11th and 12th-grade students with the opportunity to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and the ability to consult with a military recruiter.Additionally, the bill provides a process for a struggling school to convert to a charter school.”Florida is the number one state in the country for education,” DeSantis said. “By focusing on core academic subjects and rejecting indoctrination in the classroom, we have become a standard-bearer for educational excellence. The legislation I signed today continues to build on Florida’s previous accomplishments.”
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