Tuesday, the Florida Department of Education released its initial list of approved social studies textbooks, drawing criticism from a few school board members and advocates. The issue being contested is the department’s pressuring textbook publishers to censor books so that they have “state standards-aligned social studies curriculum for every grade level.” These state standards include excluding educating on things like lethal police violence against Black Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement, George Floyd’s murder, the Hebrew Bible, and more.
When they were first submitted for approval, only 18% of the books were said to comply with Florida law. Once the Florida Department of Education worked with publishers to censor certain topics, around 65.4% of the submitted books were accepted. The list was announced the same day Governor DeSantis signed a number of education bills into law.
The director of research and insight for the Florida Freedom to Read Project, Stephana Farrell, expressed concern for what this censorship might mean for the rest of American schools. Since Florida has several of the highest ranking school districts in the country, the state could potentially set a standard that other state’s schools follow.
Regarding what was taken out of the books, Farrell added how, “The text wasn’t applauding the movement or suggesting a necessary action. It was quite neutral. Whether you support it or not, it’s part of our history and part of what our children are living through.”
To read more about what was taken out of books, read the Miami Herald’s report.
Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.