Florida school district rejects dictionary donations under new book law

A Florida school district has rejected a donation of dictionaries after freezing new books in libraries and classrooms as officials navigate a new state law designed to make it easier to retrieve books deemed objectionable, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Why is it important: It’s an issue that many districts are likely facing as students return to school in Republican-led states that have implemented restrictions on book content targeting topics such as race, gender and sexuality.

Details: The Rotary Club of Venice has partnered with the nonprofit Dictionary Project to donate more than 4,000 dictionaries to elementary schools in the Sarasota County School District for nearly 15 consecutive years, according to the Herald-Tribune.

  • This year, the donation was refused for the first time.

Enlarge: The new law requires a certified educational media specialist to review and screen all reading materials in schools. The school board has approved the job description for the position, but currently no one fills the position.

  • The freeze on new books in Sarasota schools is expected to last through January at the earliest to give the district time to hire specialists and work with guidance from the state Department of Education.

Between the lines: A pivotal midterm election year, COVID-19 frustrations and a backlash against efforts to expose systemic racism — pushed disproportionately by white, suburban and rural parents — have made public schools ground zero. in the culture wars, writes Russell Contreras of Axios.

Do not forget : The Florida Department of Education announced in April that it had rejected dozens of math textbooks because they “contained prohibited topics,” including critical race theory.

The big picture: School districts from Pennsylvania to Wyoming have bowed to pressure from some conservative groups to remove books about LGBTQ issues and people of color.

  • In Des Moines, six book bans have been called for in the largest school districts in the Iowa capital metro.
  • In Texas, a school district has temporarily removed all disputed books over the past year, including the Bible and an adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary.
  • Representatives for DeSantis, the Department of Education and the Sarasota District did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

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