New Florida education law draws both praise and criticism

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2023 | Education Law

School librarians and media specialists in Florida are currently undergoing training to help them determine what kinds of books and materials are suitable for children. The training is mandated under the provisions of Florida House Bill 1467, which was passed by the state legislature in July 2022 and went into effect on Jan. 1. The bill, which has drawn both praise and condemnation, was introduced as part of the “Year of the Parent” initiative launched by Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to criticism of school curriculums.

House Bill 1467

The goal of HB 1467 is to ensure that schoolchildren in Florida are not exposed to inappropriate material in the classroom. The online training being provided to librarians and media specialists has been developed by officials at the Florida Department of Education, and it is designed to eliminate materials that include sexually explicit content or promote certain race-based views. The law requires all school personnel covered by the law to complete the training by July 1. The law also imposes term limits on school board members.

Praise and criticism

HB 1467 has been praised by parent advocacy groups and criticized by educators. DeSantis says that the education law adds much-needed transparency to school curriculums and ensures that parents know what their children are learning in Florida schools. Opponents claim that the law panders to conservative groups, and they have compared it to the book burnings that commonly take place in countries that are governed by totalitarian regimes. Critics have also harshly criticized the third-degree felony charges that educators could face for violating HB 1467. That is the charge established by Florida law for knowingly distributing sexually explicit material to minors in a school.

Children first

It is unfortunate that education and the teaching materials used in schools have become hot-button political issues. In a perfect world, parents and teachers would work together to develop classroom policies that put children first. The passage of HB 1467 and the reactions to the law from individuals and groups on both ends of the political and ideological spectrum suggest that we do not live in such a world.