Teachers shouldn’t be first responders in Florida’s bid to ban the books

If anyone reading this still believes that teachers only teach, we invite them to think again. Teachers today hold many jobs beyond simply providing education. Florida State is adding a new one to an already bloated job description – book censor.

On May 26, the Palm Beach County School District asked its teachers to check their libraries and media centers for any books and materials that may violate Florida’s new parental rights laws. It is unfortunate that the administration has made its teachers the first responders to banned books. They already have enough on their plates.

“It is my responsibility to obey the law, and I try to do so in the least disruptive way,” Superintendent Michael Burke said in an interview with The Post.

We agree but believe that teachers already have enough work to do to prepare their classes for another school year. They should not have to take on a job that could be done by the administration, either by bringing in retired teachers and administrators to provide oversight, or by expanding the role and staffing of the diversity committee and fairness.

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HB 7 and HB1557 are now the law in Florida and a harsh reality for public schools. HB 7 gives parents the opportunity to challenge any classroom instruction perceived as discriminatory or indoctrinated, especially lessons involving race and racism. HB 1557 offers similar “parental rights” over gender identification and sexual orientation.

Proponents of parental rights argue that the laws will help stem discriminatory indoctrination, but in truth they have undermined true education and fostered a new wave of dehumanizing bigotry and ignorance that hurts everyone, but particularly affects people. whose skin color is not white and whose sexual orientation is. t all right.

Politics, not education, is the big driver here. As of January 2021, 42 states, including Florida, have introduced bills or taken other action to restrict the teaching of critical race theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism, sexism and sexual orientation, according to a survey by Education Week. The CRT is an academic exam of race and racial politics that isn’t taught in public schools, but hasn’t stopped right-wing politicians and true believers from using it as a stick against education in public schools. Between September 2020 and August 2021, nearly 900 school districts across the country were targeted by anti-CRT efforts, according to researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Diego.

Just last week, Governor DeSantis launched his own initiative, the “DeSantis Education Agenda,” an anti-revival political indoctrination platform for candidates and school board members committed to advancing the initiatives. “student first, parent centered”.

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Florida’s new laws may be good policy, but the same cannot be said for their impact on our public schools in Palm Beach County. School officials are scrambling to make sure the district follows the law while maintaining a semblance of solid instruction to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse group of students and parents. It is not an easy balancing act, heavily carried by teachers.

Granted, school officials face extreme logistical challenges. The books in question are largely supplemental materials, books that are not considered “basic” instruction, but which have nevertheless been approved for placement in school libraries and media centers to help students better engage and understand the lessons taught in class. And at the moment most of them are put away due to summer vacation. At the start of the school year, teachers will spend time flipping through pages of suspect books, a chore competing with the precious time needed to prepare new students.

Teachers don’t twiddle their thumbs. Today’s classrooms require them to be counsellors, discipliners, adjudicators, social workers, psychotherapists and, in some cases, substitute parents. Add armed security to their already inflated job description, and it’s understandable that more are questioning their career choice.

Complying with a disruptive law remains a challenge for a school district facing an increasingly authoritarian state government. We simply urge our school administrators to view their teachers as a last resort rather than a first option, when it comes to staffing the censorship brigade.

About Joey J. Hott

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