The 112th Tennessee General Assembly session has ended, but we are still dealing with the last of the bills making their way to the governor’s desk for his signature. As you may have heard, at the 11th hour, without input from stakeholders, lawmakers rammed through a bill intended to create state control over local school libraries.
SB 2247/HB 2666, as amended by a committee of legislators from both chambers, would allow the state Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission to categorically ban books across the state deemed “inappropriate” based on one successful appeal from one parent in one district.
Statewide political appointees should not have power over the books available in every public-school library in Tennessee. A small group of individuals cannot possibly assess the individual needs and interests of students in every school, nor each school’s educational mission. Such a sweeping, one-size-fits-all approach to all school libraries in Tennessee makes our state an embarrassment in the realm of education. Material selection should be a local issue.
Students deserve access to truthful, high-quality books in order to build critical thinking skills, understand current events, and learn the life skills necessary to navigate complex situations. This bill is an attempt to take local control away from our public schools, our libraries, and the staff who work so hard to educate our children and expand their knowledge.