What People Think About Florida Teachers Hiding Shelves

Florida’s Manatee County was in the national spotlight this week after photos of covered classroom shelves went viral on social media.

On Tuesday, the school board addressed the controversy in a meeting. brought together about fifty people. Three mothers spoke out in favor of the district’s actions in response to a new Florida law, and a library media specialist spoke out against it.

“For those teachers who protest so much, thank you. Now we know who some of the radicals are,” the relative said. Paula Lohnes said during a public comment.

The law, HB 1467, was championed by Governor Ron DeSantis in a campaign for parental rights in Florida classrooms. It targets books containing “bias or indoctrination”, “pornography” and content “harmful to minors”. It requires that all reading materials in classrooms and libraries be approved by each district.

So far, Manatee County appears to be the only district where some schools were immediately removing or preventing access to books until they were verified and added to a district-wide database called Destiny. .

On Tuesday, there also appeared to be confusion over how principals and teachers interpreted district note.

“As far as I know, there are no book cops going from school to school and class to class,” Manatee School Board President Chad Choate said. “Don’t let your books out now until they’ve all been checked.

“I don’t think we need to create more trouble by throwing sheets, flipping books,” Choate added. “We will get through this. That is going to take time.

Others defended teachers’ reactions to the new rules.

“The information released was not consistent across all schools,” said Patricia Barber, president of the county teachers’ union. “And like it or not, some principals’ interpretation of ‘don’t allow student access to your classroom libraries until they’ve been checked’ was to cover them up, lock them up or do anything to prevent your students from having access to it.

As of Tuesday, there was still no clear consensus among district officials on how teachers should proceed to restrict access to unverified books.

“Are we telling them to leave the blanket on or off? asked school board member Mary Foreman.

“I don’t give any such directives. If approved by the district or in Destiny, it is immediately available to students,” said Laurie Breslin, executive director of curriculum for the county school district.

“It takes forever”

In Manatee County on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the district relies heavily on the power of volunteers to check books and put approved titles back on classroom shelves.

“It takes forever,” said board member Mary Foreman. “I spent the last two days at a Title 1 school going through the process. I have completed four classrooms.

Books in teachers’ classroom libraries must be checked individually against a list of approved books registered in the district system, Breslin said.

“One thing we can’t do is stop teachers from focusing on their students,” Breslin said. She explained that the district instead relies on community volunteers to come into classrooms and start checking books.

Books that are not on the approved list should be added to a spreadsheet for later review by each school’s Certified Media Specialist.

Ultimately, each school’s media specialist and principal will be responsible for determining which books are allowed to stay, Breslin said.

In cases where schools disagree on the suitability of a particular book, the decision will go to the school board for the final say, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said Tuesday.

That process has yet to be determined, and further discussions are scheduled for a school board workshop on Friday.

School board member Gina Messenger said she supported the law but expressed concern that parents in Title I schools might have less time to volunteer or access books outside from school.

“I have concerns with this dropout that we have now, and how it will affect certain segments of our population,” Messenger said.

It also takes the school district up to 10 days to do background checks on volunteers before they can enter schools, Breslin said, adding another delay to the process.

In the meantime, students still have access to books in school media libraries, which already passed the verification process last year.

State education officials issued guidelines in December explaining that the law also applies to classroom libraries, which Manatee County schools had not previously included in their book verification process.

Other members of the school board lent their support to the measure.

“I’m going to swindle the phrase ‘media morals.’ There has to be morals when we talk about our students,” said school board member Cindy Spray.

“Libraries are the garden that’s been weeded, and now we’re going into the classrooms and trying to weed those gardens, so to speak,” said school board member Richard Tatem.

“Huge” anxiety

Critics of the new law say it is censorship and serves a political purpose.

The law “allows conservatives to weed out books and school materials they find offensive,” said the parent-founded advocacy organization Florida Freedom to Read Project. in a recent article.

Manatee County recently sent a memo to superintendents saying failure to follow the new rules could result in a third-degree felony charge.

“It caused tremendous angst,” Barber said Tuesday night.

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