Florida School District Removes Book About Segregation After Parent Complaint

The book has been taken off library shelves in elementary schools in part of Florida.

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A book about segregation has been taken off library shelves in elementary schools in part of Florida.

The move from the Wakulla County School District came after a parent complained about the content of TurningPoints: Little Rock Nine.

The district, which lies south of Tallahassee in the north-west part of Florida, has four elementary schools.

This removal was uncovered by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, which posted a letter from the school board:

The letter appears to be to the parent who complained about the content of the book, which looks at segregation in the US and is aimed at third-grade reading levels.

This move was made in October 2022, but has only now come to light.

The letter says that while the book may be historically accurate, the content would be hard for those in elementary schools to comprehend.

Even though the book was only available on library shelves and wasn't actively being taught on, it will now only be an option for students in middle and high schools.

The Context: The Little Rock Nine were a group of African American students who were enrolled at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. They were prevented from entering the segregated school by the state's governor, but President Eisenhower intervened. Their story is told as part of education around desegregation.

The Florida Freedom to Read Project says this is the latest poor interpretation of a FL Department of Education rule, which has left schools concerned they will be fined or declassified if they teach on certain materials.

The New Republic reports on how this isn't the only instance, with one school district banning 23 books on issues such as Black history and LGBTQ topics, while other teachers have hidden materials until they can be 'vetted' by the State.

Governor Ron DeSantis has denied claims of book bans and sought to downplay what has been reported.

In March, Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said:

“Education is about the pursuit of truth, not woke indoctrination.

“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.”

The Florida Freedom to Read Project told us:

"The concept of "age appropriate" limitations on access to information begs the question: what child's lived experience and understanding sets the standard for the school library? Before the 2022 legislation, our professional educators felt confident in their expertise to select materials that met the needs of their assigned students.

"Unfortunately, that expertise has been called into question and it has been replaced with the practice of "erring on the side of caution."

"We are discriminately limiting books and topics that reflect the families, histories, and lived experiences of every student for the convenience of a select few parents that want limitations in the library." 

The Messenger has asked the Florida Department of Education for a statement but is yet to receive a response.

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