Banning Books & Colorado Legislation HB22-1066

We’ve been watching the growing movement in other states (so far) to ban books in school libraries. Articles have been all over social media, most recently this article from Vox:  

Why Book Banning is Back in 2022, Feb 10, 2022

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/22914767/book-banning-crt-school-boards-republicans

States with Republican legislatures such as Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Texas (to name a few) have filed legislation to ban books and  “Educational Gag Orders” ; and such legislation has been filed in 33 different states since January 2021 – According to PEN America (https://pen.org/steep-rise-gag-orders-many-sloppily-drafted/

It’s pretty scary, and it’s all connected to the latest efforts by many GOP candidates and operatives to win big in 2022 and 2024. A lot of this started with Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. Youngkin, like so many others from the far Right, put forward the incorrect assumption that Critical Race Theory was being taught in K-12 public schools. His rallying cry became Parent Rights and Parent Choice.  And without looking deeper, that didn’t seem like it should be a bad thing.  But Youngkin’s win in Virginia brought about his ban on CRT with praise from Christopher Rufo.

 

Along with book bans, there also emerged a growing trend in “Curriculum Transparency”.  Sounds harmless, but this opens a door to allow just about anyone to scrutinize teaching materials, oppose them and thus move to ultimately ban books and materials (and in some cases, even use it as a tool to single out teachers for punitive measures).  A slippery slope for sure.  Again, Christopher Rufo emerges. 

 

As is covered in this NBC News Report Jan, 2022, They fought critical race theory. Now they’re focusing on ‘curriculum transparency.’ 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/critical-race-theory-curriculum-transparency-rcna12809

“Conservative activists want schools to post lesson plans online, but free speech advocates warn such policies could lead to more censorship in K-12 schools.”

“Christopher Rufo, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute who has been instrumental in drawing opposition to racial sensitivity training, said shifting from pushing bans on teaching critical race theory to pushing curriculum transparency bills is a “rhetorically-advantageous position” that will “bait the Left into opposing ‘transparency.’” 

“The push for curriculum transparency policy emerged after at least seven conservative think tanks publicly called on legislators to enact such laws over the last year. Two of them, the Goldwater Institute and the Manhattan Institute, have published model bills, policies and resolutions for legislators and school boards to use as templates.”

Enter Colorado HB22-1066 https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb22-1066 

Public Education Curriculum And Professional Development Information, sponsored by Rep. Tim Geitner.

“Concerning requiring public education entities to improve academic transparency by providing easily accessible information to the public, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.”

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2022A/bills/fn/2022a_hb1066_00.pdf

Here’s part of what the bill requires LEPs (Local Education Providers, or School Districts) to post to their websites:

  • A list of written and electronic educational materials used in teaching preschool through grade 12, including the title, internet address, publisher, publication date, and international standard business number, if applicable, for each item listed; 
  • A copy of each survey, nonacademic assessment and evaluation distributed to students; and
  • A list of each electronic device and educational program or software that collects biometric data from students, and the grades, subjects, and courses in which they’re used.
  • LEPs must make a copy of any item available to parents upon request, and may not impose a nondisclosure requirement on a parent who requests a copy of any educational materials.”

The bill allows for the school district to “adopt a policy concerning the teaching of controversial issues…the policy must include procedures for a person to report a violation…”

A slippery slope, indeed. The Democrats hold the majority in both our State House and Senate, or we would very likely see this legislation easily move forward.  HB1066 is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee Feb. 24th.  It’s worth your time to send an email to the members opposing this form of an Education Gag Order.  https://leg.colorado.gov/committees/education/2022-regular-session-0

For more on this topic:

A ‘war on books’? Conservatives push for audits of school libraries, Nov 9, 2021 https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-11-08/texas-schools-ordered-to-investigate-book

16 books removed from Polk County school libraries after objection from conservative group, Jan 28, 2022 https://www.wfla.com/news/polk-county/16-books-removed-from-polk-county-school-libraries-after-objection-from-conservative-group/

Curmudgucation, Jan 30  2022, Transparency as a Chaos Tool

https://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2022/01/transparency-as-chaos-tool.html

Dec 9, 2021 The GOP Has Revived its Obsession with Parents Rights

https://newrepublic.com/article/164648/gop-obsession-parents-rights

The Denver Channel, Feb 11, 2022 Authors, Educators Speak Out About Concealing History in Schools by Banning Books

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/authors-educators-speak-out-about-concealing-history-in-schools-by-banning-books?fbclid=IwAR34Qezg3jpyBoWdNB1s9fssxga1QIBD5jX1bZZUfxD_SdNaUzjFBsj25Ig