JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The debate over what books are permitted on the shelves in your child’s school continues tonight.
The clay county board of education is taking up the issue and parents are expected to pack the house. At the crux of the argument is when they’re taken off the shelves and who has a say in it.
Whether its Duval, Clay or any other county, the way books are, or are not, banned varies.
Is it one parent’s problem? Is it a committee? And what qualifies as inappropriate? These are questions that every school board seems to be handling differently.
So Action News Jax asked the State Education Commissioner himself. Manny Diaz says it’s not HIS fault- it’s just politics.
“Look,” he told Action News Jax Emily Turner, “the statues are clear.”
But the application of those statutes is NOT clear. All you have to do is turn to Facebook to find frustration with the patchwork way that state statute is applied. One parent comments about frustration with how Clay County has been pulling books the moment just one parent challenges it. The Clay County Education Association echoes the same sentiment.
Commissioner Diaz says that’s exactly the point.
When asked if he felt whether the process allows individuals or small minorities more power than they should have over the majority, he answered, “I think every taxpayer, every parent in a community should have the power to object and that’s why there’s a process.”
In an effort to clean up that process, the Clay county school board will vote on changes to its challenge procedures for books. Local education groups are expected to come out and in force for public comment. It’ll be the latest stitch in the patchwork application of a law Diaz says is so straightforward.
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“I don’t think this is confusing,” Diaz stated, “I think that unfortunately, it’s taken on a political agenda to try to get back at the governor.”
Diaz did say they plan to work with the legislature to clarify some of the book review process, but didn’t go into the specifics any further.