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Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom filed a public records request last week with the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education about communications leading to potential textbook reviews by publishers to gain approval for use in Florida schools.
In addition, Newsom, a Democrat, is asking publishers to disclose whether they submitted social studies textbooks for approval in Florida and whether they agreed to any changes by officials in the Republican-led state.
He Florida Department of Education announced earlier this month that only 19 of 101 social studies instructional materials were approved in April “due to inaccurate material, errors, and other information that was not aligned with Florida Law.” Since then, 66 of the 101 materials submitted have been approved by the state after working directly with the publishers, who have “updated their materials” to meet state standards.
“To maintain our exceptional standards, we must ensure that our students and teachers have the highest quality materials available, materials that are focused on historical facts and free of inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric,” said Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. in a statement.
During these reviews, several books that Florida added to her “not recommended list” include two books on Holocaust education and another textbook on African American history, among other far-reaching topics.
“California will not be complicit in Florida’s attempt to whitewash the story through secret laws and agreements,” Newsom wrote to the editors. “Parents have a right to know what is going on in the dark to undermine our children’s education, and California deserves to know if any of the companies designing textbooks for our state’s classrooms are the same ones bowing to the extremist agenda. from Florida”.
Newsom’s efforts come as momentum is growing, particularly among Democrats and advocates, to roll back efforts by Florida and other states to ban books from schools and local libraries. The push against book bans is building as more book cases are published. removed from shelves in 2023 compared to last year.
Recently, the US Department of Education found Georgia’s Forsyth County Schools’ process for banning books discriminated against students on the basis of sex and race, violating both Title IX and Title VI. Meanwhile, publishing giant Penguin Random House joined a lawsuit challenging book bans instituted by Florida’s Escambia County School District and its school board.
Earlier this month, the Democratic-led Illinois General Assembly also prepared to become the first state to ban libraries from banning books when passed HB 2789 and Governor JB Pritzker still hoped to sign it into law.