DeSantis v. Florida Schools

Elijah Shinnick, Staff Writer

It feels like every other day Florida is back in the news. Whether it’s another wild Florida man story, a hurricane forming on the coast or how more and more people are moving here, Florida seems to be in the headlines.

This time is no different; a recent decision could affect children’s education across the sunshine state — and it all starts with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Now, DeSantis is no stranger to controversy. Love him or hate him, he’s been in power for over four years now, and his antics have only gotten more and more extreme.

On Jan. 26, 2023, teacher Andrea Phillips posted a photo of an empty bookshelf sitting along her classroom wall. Earlier that day, she and others in her administration had received a video from their district directing them to remove all books from their shelves. Out of an abundance of caution, she complied, leading to the photo that has caught so many people’s attention. For her books to return to her shelves, they would first need to be vetted by a certified media specialist.

This comes months after DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE” act, which restricts lessons and training on race and diversity in schools, eliminating all discussion on privilege or oppression based on race.

Now, each school must cover up or remove books that don’t comply with the act, which didn’t seem real until countless images of teachers posting their bare shelves hit the Internet.

Then the outrage began.

There are many questionable things about this whole situation. Duval County had 176 books banned last year, the likes of which included Pink Is for Boys and even The Berenstain Bears, leaving most baffled by what makes a book bannable or not.

DeSantis and his views have always landed him in hot water, but pushing his agenda by banning books from schools are at a level no one would have expected from him. He is not backing down from this, however.

DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, posted tweet in response to one of the videos of empty sleeves, saying, “This is the latest lie from the crowd who believes they should be able to subject children to their preferred political agenda in public schools without any accountability to parents or the taxpayer.”

Teachers have a hard time as it is, and adding a ban that completely changes their teaching curriculum is the last thing they need. A teacher in Manatee County is even countersuing DeSantis. In a world filled with so many problems, books on school shelves should be the last thing we’re worried about.