JACKSONVILLE, Fla — As kids get ready to go back to class, more books are leaving school shelves as districts follow new state guidelines Governor Ron DeSantis said is aimed at transparency.
Action News Jax dug through records and found 19 titles have been removed from Duval County Public School shelves, 31 from St. Johns County, and 115 from Clay as student gear up to head back to school.
Clay County District Schools added 45 new books pending review over the summer. It’s one reason former educators Casey Raasio and Kati Johnston are ramping up their efforts with the organization Rebel Readers.
“If books aren’t in schools, then kids don’t have anything to reinforce the skill sets they’re learning,” Raasio said.
Both are friends with different backgrounds but now have a passion for literacy in common. They said literacy is under attack by House Bill 1467, which was signed into law last year. DCPS said the new law means all books in classroom libraries must be reviewed.
Rebel Readers gives access to unapproved books by donating them to Little Free Libraries across Northeast Florida.
In Duval County, for example, “The Truth About Alice” by Jennifer Mathieu was banned. In Clay County, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George Johnson has been removed. That same book was pulled from St. Johns County classroom shelves along with “The Kite Runner”, “The Haters”, and “Water for Elephants”.
“In Florida, pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students violate our state education standards. Florida is the education state and that means providing students with a quality education free from sexualization and harmful materials that are not age-appropriate,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Education is about the pursuit of truth, not woke indoctrination,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Under Governor DeSantis, Florida is committed to rigorous academic content and high standards so that students learn how to think and receive the tools necessary to go forth and make great decisions.”
That message goes against what Rebel Readers is trying to accomplish.
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“History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes. I feel like this is such a similar tune that we really need to turn the volume up and listen,” Johnston said.
The organization is now pushing ahead with its mission as class goes back in session.