Image Credit: TNDeptofEducation / YouTube
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
Last week, conservative Laurie Cardoza-Moore pushed for the Tennessee Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission on which she serves to define the parameters of what is age-appropriate when it comes to the books that school-aged children have access to in their school libraries. Other members on the committee disagreed, saying that it wasn’t the commission’s responsibility to create rules or regulations.
Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton reappointed Cardoza-Moore to a three-year term on the commission which evaluates and recommends textbooks and other instructional materials for local school districts.
Cardoza-Moore is one of three non-educators on the commission which was expanded this year to thirteen members. All members of the commission are appointed by the governor, and the speakers of the House and Senate. Also among the voting members are two school librarians, two directors of schools, one principal, and other educators. A newly created state Library Coordinator will sit on the commission starting this year but as a non-voting member.
Because of a new law, the Textbook Commission is in the process of providing guidance regarding age-appropriateness to school districts by the beginning of December. The law also gives the commission the authority to remove books from all schools throughout the state as part of an appeals process over challenged materials. Parents must first go through their local school boards if they wish for books or other materials to be reviewed for appropriateness.
The commission is hearing from a school librarian advisory panel and looking at model guidance from the Tennessee School Boards Association as part of the process of developing their guidelines.
Several counties have dealt with book challenges from parents that say they are not appropriate for a variety of reasons.
Last month in Sumner County, community stakeholders and parents passionately debated for nearly four hours over a picture book that was challenged for espousing divisive concepts.
A review committee in Wilson County has considered several books that parents have challenged for sexually inappropriate and pornographic material. So far, all books brought forward have been retained by the school district, with a few placed on a Mature Reading list which requires parental consent in order for a child to check the book out of the school library.
And in Williamson County, a parents’ rights group is suing the school district and others over an English Language Arts curriculum that they say is filled with dark and inappropriate content for elementary aged students.
The Textbook Commission will be meeting virtually on December 2nd to vote on the guidance. Another meeting in January will address the appeals process.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.