Florida bill would give parents control over library books, instructional material in elementary schools

A bill moving through the Florida legislature would allow the public to weigh in on library books and other instructional materials inside the classroom.

Elementary schools would be required to have a list of the library books available online including all books used in classrooms.  

Under the proposal, elementary schools would be required to publish on their websites "in a searchable format" all books and materials that are kept in the schools’ media centers or that are part of class reading lists. 

Committees that recommend the "ranking, eliminating, or selecting" of books and other instructional materials to school boards would be required to include parents of students in the school district, along with other members of the community.

The bill (SB1300) was proposed by Senate Education Chairman Joe Gruters, of Sarasota, and was approved by the education committee in a 6-3 vote along party lines.  

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"The purpose of the bill is to create transparency in the process. It’s not to censor anything," Gruters said. "It’s about giving people the opportunity to understand exactly what is being offered to their students, in terms of instructional materials."  

While, for the most part, the measure has Republican support, Democrats like State Sen. Tina Polksy (D-Boca Raton) are concerned it will lead to censorship. 

"If you want them insulated so much, that they shouldn’t learn about the outside world," she said, "then you should homeschool them or you can send them to a religious private school with voucher money."