By Leslie Garcia
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter along with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Attorney General Rob Bonta to school and county superintendents, and charter school administrators this week, warning against book banning.
The letter mandates school administrators to follow educational civil rights and legal mandates to ensure access and freedom to diverse perspectives and curricula.
They also noted, “Access to books—including books that reflect the diverse experience 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 letter (available here) outlines constitutional precedent and case law on the restriction of book removals from schools and libraries, explaining it is the responsibility of school administrators to expose students to a variety of world views, and through legal mandate, they are required to preserve freedom of speech through an unbiased curriculum.
The joint letter states local educational agencies may be requested to provide information for analysis to the Attorney Generals’ Office if they ban or remove instructional materials.
The letter adds California continues to invest tens of billions of dollars toward literacy improvement and education outcomes despite book banning in other states.
The officials said during the pandemic with California’s school funding at historic levels, it was able to outperform states like Texas and Florida along with many others in reducing learning loss, and is building support and structure for students and educators with inclusion, equity and academic success.