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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

In September, DCPS denied they were banning books. It turns out lots were being banned.

This is DCPS, this is us, and it isn't good. 

From WJCT News, 

Duval Schools landed this week on a widely publicized list of districts banning schoolbooks, but the district contends the list is false. 

PEN America, an organization advocating for free speech, released a tally of books banned across the country, including more than 550 in Florida, the second-most of any state. Only Texas banned more. 

At least 175 of the books banned in Florida were in Duval County Public Schools, according to the report. Clay County Public Schools was shown with two banned books and St. Johns County with six. No other bans were found in Northeast Florida. 

PEN America, a nonprofit group representing writers and editors, defines a book ban as any action taken against a book as a result of parent or community challenges, administrative decisions or action threatened by government officials — regardless of whether the book has been removed or simply restricted. 

Duval Schools might disagree with that definition. None of the books on the list have been banned or challenged in Duval Schools, a spokeswoman told WJCT News on Tuesday. 

Fast forward to today and it turns out we have banned dozens of books. 

From Jax Today, 

Dozens of books the Duval County school district ordered in the summer of 2021 will never hit classroom shelves. That’s the result of an ongoing review after the district pulled almost 200 books this spring while the Florida Legislature passed limits on what teachers can say about race, gender and sexual orientation in classrooms and set new rules for purchasing classroom materials.  

After a 10-month process – delayed by staffing shortages, according to the district – 47 titles are being returned to the distributor. Twenty-six others will remain in storage, awaiting further state guidance.  

Among the rejected titles are a book about Martin Luther King Jr. intended for fourth graders; a biography of Rosa Parks for second grade classrooms; a first grade Berenstain Bears book about God; and multiple titles including LGBTQ+ characters and families. District staffers are sending the rejected books back to the distributor, Perfection Learning, for exchange. 

Books about Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa parks were banned. Books from Jewish authors and ones featuring queer characters were banned as well. This isn't being done by brown shirts in 1930s Germany. It is being done today and right here in Jacksonville, Florida.

Does any of this sound familiar, and I am not talking about the district being less than truthful, something they frequently are, see subs and staffing levels? 

The district has a credibility problem mostly because Greene has a credibility problem. The district doesn’t mind stretching the truth until they get caught, that is, and then it is radio silence. 

We should and could be doing better. 

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