Legislative Democrats introduce a measure that would prevent schools and other institutions from banning books based on the authors’ background, politics, or other views.
Democratic members of the Wisconsin Legislature are fighting back against a rising tide of demands to ban books by proposing a law that would cut off state and local funding for schools, libraries, universities, and certain other institutions that “ban or unreasonably restrict access” to books and media based on the authors’ political views, historical accuracies, and racial or sexual content.
“In a democracy, we must preserve our right to access a wide array of ideas and perspectives,” say the bill’s authors in a memo seeking co-sponsors. “Such freedoms are integral to the democratic values of freedom and self-governance upon which our nation was founded. Unfortunately, instances of government institutions attempting to censor or restrict access to certain books or other educational materials have been on the rise, stifling the open exchange of ideas that is essential to an open and informed society.”
The bill was written up by Assembly Reps. Jodi Emerson of Eau Claire, Dave Considine of Baraboo, Christine Sinicki of Madison, and Sen. Kelda Roys of Madison.
Kabby Hong, an instructor at Verona Area High School and Wisconsin’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, told UpNorthNews Radio that despite ongoing claims that school classrooms and libraries are filled with inappropriate materials, educators work hard to provide materials that meet their students’ learning needs and provide a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
“The first step in the process is really for teachers to think about our kids and how best to meet their needs,” Hong said. “We also then take a look at the overall goals for the course, and if you look at the Wisconsin state standards, one of them specifically states that you need to explain how an author’s geographic location, identity and culture affect perspective.”
“Act 31 in Wisconsin also requires that the identities of Black Americans, Hispanic and Native Americans are also represented in the curriculum itself. So to best prepare our kids for the diverse world that they’re going to be entering in. They need to develop skills in terms of empathy, looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.”
The provisions of the proposed bill do not apply to any age-based restriction on obscene or pornographic material. They also do not apply to libraries in prisons, jail, and other detention facilities.
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