California: Illegal Book Bans: Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and State Superintendent Thurmond Warn Against Book Bans Statewide
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SACRAMENTO ~ Today, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond sent a joint letter to all county school superintendents, district school superintendents, and charter school administrators in California to caution against book bans. The letter outlines pertinent educational civil rights and corresponding legal mandates that school administrators are required to follow in order to preserve freedom and ensure access to diverse perspectives and curricula.

The joint letter highlights case law and constitutional precedent that restricts the removal of books from libraries and schools; the responsibilities of school administrators to provide students exposure to various world views; and the legal mandates that require school administrators to provide an unbiased curriculum to students and preserve freedom of speech. Additionally, the joint letter informs local educational agencies that if they remove or ban instructional materials from classrooms or libraries, they may be requested to provide information to the Attorney General's Office for analysis.

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Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Superintendent Thurmond stated: "As state leaders elected to represent the values of all Californians, we offer our response in one shared voice: Access to books – including books that reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives of Californians, and especially those that may challenge us to grapple with uncomfortable truths – is a profound freedom we all must protect and cultivate."

The joint letter comes as a response to reports of 1,477 books being banned nationally in the first half of this school year alone. While other states ban books, California is investing tens of billions of dollars into improving literacy outcomes for its students. California has outperformed most states — including Florida and Texas — in mitigating learning loss during the pandemic due its focus on equity, inclusion, and academic success.

Filed Under: Government, State

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