A proposed bill in California has sparked debate as it seeks to impose fines on school districts that ban books containing “inclusive and diverse perspectives.”
Assemblymember Corey Jackson of Riverside authored the bill, which aims to address local school board control over curriculum and book selection. The measure passed 5-2 in the Senate Education Committee after a heated debate, signaling potential changes in the state’s approach to book banning in schools.
Details of AB 1078
AB 1078, introduced by Assemblymember Corey Jackson, does not outright prohibit book banning but seeks to penalize school districts that ban books with inclusive and diverse viewpoints. The bill aims to curtail local control over curriculum decisions and was discussed and passed by a 5-2 vote in the Senate Education Committee.
Debate and Perspectives
The hearing of the California State Senate Education Committee witnessed intense discussions from both proponents and opponents of book banning.
The tweet below verifies the news:
— AXAP (@axapteam) July 9, 2023
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond voiced support for the bill, emphasizing the importance of protecting students of color and LGBTQ+ students from being deprived of education due to their viewpoints. Thurmond acknowledged the value of local control but emphasized that it should not permit the mistreatment or bullying of students.
Book Banning Statistics and PEN America’s Efforts
A recently released report by PEN America revealed that approximately 1,500 books were banned during the first half of the 2022-2023 school year. PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans identified 1,477 instances of individual book bans during this period.
Notably, 30% of the banned books featured race-related themes, racism, or characters of color, while 26% contained LGBTQ+ characters or themes. PEN America has been monitoring book-banning efforts for the past two years, documenting the growth of advocacy groups supporting bans and challenges to books at both local and state levels.
Book Banning Issue Beyond California
While book banning has garnered attention in California, the issue is not limited to the state. Red states such as Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina have also witnessed debates and actions surrounding book bans at the local school board level.
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