29th May 2024

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Florida revises book ban law in omnibus education bill

2 min read

Gov. DeSantis signed a comprehensive education bill Tuesday that quietly revised Florida’s current book removal law.

Included in a bill containing over a dozen items, the book banning provision is intended to dispel claims that the state is being too restrictive on education, DeSantis said at the bill signing in Jacksonville.

The new law, HB 1285, limits residents who don’t have children in the school district from reporting more than one book per month.

“Community members who don’t have kids in school, some say, ‘Well why should they be able to get involved in this curriculum?'” DeSantis said. “Some of them pay taxes. I wouldn’t say someone who doesn’t have kids in school doesn’t have interest.”

This comes nearly a month after DeSantis called on the legislature and Department of Education to “reform” the book banning policies in response to public criticism.

Since the original bill, HB 1069, became law last year, thousands of books have been banned or flagged for removal around the state, including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.”

Images of emptied libraries and classroom shelves floated around social media, posted by teachers and librarians who said they were trying to comply with the law’s restrictions.

The governor has since stepped back from the original policy pushed by his administration and the education commission, saying people have been using the book bans to support a “false political narrative.”

“We’re not trying to create a cottage industry of people that are trying to use this to advance themselves,” DeSantis said, calling bans on classic literature like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “absurd.”

HB 1285 covers both K-12 and higher education touching on everything from charter schools to dual enrollment.

The new law provides benefits for military families and allows private schools to use public facilities, such as libraries and museums. It also bars higher education institutions from prohibiting students from working full or part time while seeking a degree.

A focal point for the governor and Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz, Jr. was an expansion on “classical education,” which is an alternative to public schooling that is heavily oriented toward liberal arts.

“The classical model is very different,” Diaz said. “It’s going back to our founding impetus of education.”


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