The Texas Education Agency this week released a model policy on reviewing library books for “obscene” content. School districts are not required to adopt the policy, but the TEA has asked them to consider adopting it or expanding the existing local policy.
In a letter to districts, TEA said, “While most school systems have a local policy (see EF Local) to review educational resources after receiving a complaint from parents, school libraries are offered as places to voluntary survey. Although teaching materials and library materials are both considered educational resources, they are not the same…. TEA’s model policy makes such a distinction by dealing only with the review, selection and approval of library materials, including procedures that ensure transparency and clear processes for parents. to challenge these chosen materials in a more comprehensive way.
TEA’s recommendations stem from a November directive from Governor Greg Abbott asking the agency to develop statewide standards for removing “pornographic” materials from K-12 libraries. The model policy includes detailed recommendations for district-level review committees to review book inventories and respond to complaints from parents requesting book removals. Additionally, under the policy, districts would be required to maintain online listings of all records and planned acquisition of records for public review.
As the TEA noted, most districts already have instructional material review policies and have used the same or a similar process to handle parent complaints about library books. Complaints have increased dramatically over the past year after conservative officials began targeting schools with slanderous claims against books about race, gender and sexuality.