Florida is increasingly restricting what can be taught in schools at all levels. Governor Ron DeSantis has declared war on “wokeism” and has promised to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. He has backed the Stop Woke Act, which restricts teaching about race in colleges, and announced plans to mandate Western civilization courses. His administration was also in close contact with the College Board as it gutted the A.P. African American Studies course.
But the book bans go a step further, as they aren’t even about changing the school curriculum but preventing students from reading the books at all. In public schools, one school district has banned 23 different books from school libraries. Teachers in other school districts have also been told to hide their classroom book collections until all the books have been vetted and approved. But the vetting process is opaque, and there is no policy clarifying how long a complaint review process should take. As a result, books and films are withheld from students for months on end.
“Why is it permissible to teach white scholars Black folks were enslaved but not permissible to teach them about African American contributions to America and the world and the struggles they encountered and continue to experience as citizens of the United States of America?” former St. Petersburg police chief Goliath Davis asked in an op-ed for The Weekly Challenger after Ruby Bridges was banned. “Black history, Native-American history and Hispanic history, though not always glamorous, are American history and cannot be denied.”