Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently attracted a fusillade of criticism by canceling an Advanced Placement African American studies course for public high school students that he deemed too “woke.” This is just one of many such controversies that erupt when elected officials, from school boards to governors, struggle over curriculum, as well as over library books.
Regardless of personal ideology, the problem with these debates over whether, say, a history curriculum veers into 1619 ideology, or perhaps glosses over the ugly warts in our country’s history is that the average parent will often shrug and justifiably answer, “how would I know?”
For some reason, some of the content taught in schools – material that will literally be read by millions of school children – can be treated like classified information by local school boards. How are common-sense deliberations between school boards and parents going to yield a productive answer unless the actual material can be discussed?
Otherwise, parents are left to react to impressions and rumors.
A minor victory occurred in Forsyth County, Georgia, at the end of January, when a U.S. District Court permanently enjoined the local school district from prohibiting speakers from reading or quoting verbatim from the text of any book or written words available in any Forsyth County library or classroom, while addressing the school board during the public comment period.
The parents’ group, Mamma Bears of Forsyth County, told the court that their lawsuit does not try to “resolve the question of which books should be available in school libraries, but instead, addresses unlawful attempts to sanitize how parents speak about those books in the presence of elected officials and other adults.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys sought $17.91 in nominal damages – in case anyone on the board needed to be schooled on the passage of the Bill of Rights.
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