New law makes it legal to challenge assigned reading in schools
BOCA RATON, Fla. (CBS12) —
Censoring literature is a push and pull over parental control in the classroom.
A brand new law allows anyone to argue that a book is too mature for public school students.
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is the latest to raise objection. Some parents in nearby counties consider the book too violent.
The plot is about burning books-- this debate is about banning them.
Michelle Olson Rogers, who has a 4-year-old daughter, worries her daughter will be so engrossed with technology and pop culture that literature will have no appeal.
"I think the classics are called the classics for a reason," Rogers said.
That's why she believes it's good when teachers expose kids to different kinds of fiction and talk about it.
Rogers is mad that under Florida's new law, anybody -- even if they're not a parent -- could affect a change county-wide to ban a certain book.
"I think it's just ridiculous," she said.
The Florida Citizens' Alliance, the conservative advocacy group that pushed for this bill to become law, released this statement to CBS 12 News:
All we are looking for in each county is a process that identifies high-quality textbooks for our students that eliminates political and religious indoctrination.
This law was not originally intended to challenge fiction, rather to challenge what is presented as fact in science and history classes.
But some parents across the state are using the law to try to ban such books as Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye because they say it's too sexual and Fahrenheit 451 because it's profane and too rough.
"And so I would say that one person should opt out of that book-- go to the teacher and say, 'I am not comfortable with my child reading this book, can you please provide them with an alternative text,' which teachers have done," said Rosemary Jensen, a retired teacher and literacy advocate.
Rogers says that's exactly what she'd do if there was a book she found inappropriate for her daughter, not ban it.
"Books like Fahrenheit 451 have been around forever," she said. "I read it as a high schooler and I think those books continuing to be in our children's education system is important."
Palm Beach County's School District says no novel has been challenged this year, but there is currently one challenge of a science textbook that deals with evolution.
That process is still playing out.