Bill requiring more public review of elementary school materials advances
Florida prisons are in need of books.

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The bill, passed with Democrats' opposition, now goes to the full Senate floor.

A bill that limits school board members’ terms to 12 years and opens elementary schools’ instructional materials to more public scrutiny — and some say book dumping — will be heading for the full Senate floor after advancing through the Senate Rules Committee Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Sam Garrison introduced the legislation (HB 1467) in the House. The Senate is now taking up that bill. It is one of a number of measures introduced this Session that seeks to change up the governance of the state’s 67 school districts. The full House on Feb. 10 approved Garrison’s bill largely along a party-line vote.

When first introduced, the bill eliminated school board members’ salaries. But those provisions have disappeared and now Republican Sen. Joe Gruters has taken up the effort. Most of Tuesday’s discussion centered around the required review and listing of materials.

“This bill is all about transparency and allowing parents the ability to see exactly what’s available and being taught in their schools,” Gruters said.

The bill requires all materials in use to be cataloged on a searchable list for online review. Also, school districts would have to provide a public review process for the adoption of all materials as a separate line item on a board meeting agenda with “reasonable” opportunity for public comment.

“The book banning or book limitation provisions scares the you-know-what out of me,” said Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer, citing Nazi book burnings of “un-German” books, including Helen Keller’s book.

The bill requires elementary schools to hire a media specialist to curate educational materials and library books. It also calls for school districts to report what materials and books draw public objections to the state Department of Education (DOE). The DOE would then publish that list for circulation.

In addition to Democrats’ objections, representatives from the Florida Parent-Teacher Organization, the state School Board Association and even a member of the clergy objected to the bill.

One school already has delayed putting 1,000 new books on shelves to replace worn copies, anticipating this required review, one witness testified. The school doesn’t have the money to hire someone who meets the “media specialist “qualifications outlined in the bill.

“Let us not swat a fly with a sledgehammer,” said Nancy Lawther, representing the Florida PTA.

Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell wanted to know why this was being introduced.

“Where are the teachers and parents who have been looking for this?” he asked.

Gruters said some districts are already doing this.

“This bill simply ensures that some of those rules we have in place for instructional materials are in place for all materials,” Gruters said. “I would consider that some of the best practices have been identified and being applied statewide.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Jack

    March 1, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    I hope this helps the education system more.

  • Ron Ogden

    March 2, 2022 at 9:15 am

    “The book banning or book limitation provisions scares the you-know-what out of me,” said Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer, citing Nazi book burnings of “un-German” books, i

    Read the bill. ( )

    All it does is make it easier for citizens to see what materials are in the schools. It does nothing to encourage burning torches and book bonfires.
    Farmer is just spouting the Democrats fevered, “scare-the-base-into-voting-for-us” politics. Just like that ludicrous “free-for-all” Tlaib last night, it is proggy-ism gone wild. Democrats in general are a venomous den.

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