Gov. Newsom, AG Bonta dump cold water on people seeking book bans in Elk Grove schools, throughout the state

For people seeking book bans from libraries at Elk Grove Unified School District schools, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has a message for you - forget it.

That was the message conveyed today by Newson, along with Attorney General Rob Bonta and State School Superintendent Tony Thurmon. That message was sent in a joint letter to all county school superintendents, district school superintendents, and charter school administrators cautioning against book bans. 

The letter emphasized pertinent educational civil rights and corresponding legal mandates school administrators are required to follow to preserve freedom and ensure access to diverse perspectives and curricula.

“In the first half of this school year alone, 1,477 books were banned nationally, with teachers and librarians threatened with prison time for shelving the wrong book,” Newsom, Bonta, and Thurmond's letter said. “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 letter cites case law and constitutional precedent that restricts the removal of books from libraries and schools and reminds school administrators to provide students exposure to various world views. Additionally, the letter reminds administrators of legal mandates that require school administrators to provide an unbiased curriculum to students and preserve freedom of speech. 

Book bans have become a culture war fixture in several states, most notably in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has made the issue in his battle against so-called woke policies. DeSantis has signed into law wide-ranging legislation, including the so-called "don't say Gay" law. 

Locally, people seeking the removal of books from school libraries are a fixture during public comment at Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee meetings. An example of a recent comment can be viewed in the video below.  

The letter also warns school districts of the consequence of breaking the mandate. If local educational agencies remove or ban instructional materials from classrooms or libraries, they may be requested to provide information to the Attorney General’s Office for analysis.

As he is wont to do, Newsome used the press release to make gabs at political rivals DeSantis and Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott. 

The press release claimed, "While other states ban books, California is improving education outcomes and investing tens of billions of dollars to improve literacy. California outperformed most states — including Florida and Texas — in mitigating learning loss during the pandemic, and through historic levels of school funding, the state is building a cohesive structure of support for educators and students that reflects a focus on equity, inclusion, and academic success."

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