Haunting photos show Florida teachers hiding their classroom libraries out of fear they’ll face felony charges under the state’s new book ban
Under a newly signed law in Florida, teachers across the state (and at all grade levels) are required to have all classroom books approved by a “certified media specialist.” Now, teachers in some districts are being instructed to remove entire libraries of books or cover them up so they can’t be accessed by students because they haven’t yet been approved.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that teachers at all grade levels in the Manatee County School District have been instructed by the district’s chief of staff to remove any unapproved books, for fear that any teachers found in violation of the book-banning law could face felony charges.
These posts from FLORIDA teachers having to remove every book from their classrooms because of Republican bannings are heartbreaking. Some schools are banning kids from bringing in any books because they're afraid teachers might go to jail.— Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. (@WillieETCarver) January 20, 2023
This is modern day America. pic.twitter.com/KkcKIfhlby
The move is in response to Florida governor Ron DeSantis signing HB 1467, which says that all school reading material must be vetted and approved by an appointed education media specialist with the appropriate state certification. The media specialist is tasked with ensuring all classroom books are “free of pornography” and “appropriate for the age level and group.”
The law also states that the Board of Education must train these media specialists to censor any books or other reading materials with “unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination.”
Teachers told the Herald-Tribune that whether they agree with the law or not, they now have to cut off their students’ access to books.
“If you have a lot of books like I do, probably several hundred, it is not practical to run all of them through (the vetting process) so we have to cover them up,” Don Falls, a history teacher in the Manatee School District, told reporters. “It is not only ridiculous but a very scary attack on fundamental rights.”
Jean Faulk, a history and journalism teacher at Bayshore High, said all that’s left on her classroom shelves are reference books. She was even forced to remove books on democracy and writings by John Adams, simply because they haven’t been vetted yet.
“This is totally a political move by the governor,” she said. “It has nothing to do with the students.”