Statement on Texas Education Agency’s Model Policy Regarding School Library Content
On April 11, the Texas Education Agency issued a model local board policy in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s direction that TEA address statewide standards to prevent the presence of obscene content in Texas public school libraries. The Texas Library Association (TLA) and the Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL, a TLA division), appreciate TEA’s work to recommend procedures to ensure transparency, facilitate parental engagement, and clarify that library materials are different from instructional materials used in classroom teaching. But we must emphasize the following:
School libraries are for all students but not all students are the same – they have diverse interests, abilities, and maturity levels, and varied cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The school library collection, developed by highly trained and educated certified school librarians with input from students, teachers, parents, and administrators, must be relevant to the students and campus it serves. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
No book is right for every child; but one book can make a difference in the life of one child.
Furthermore, school libraries do not collect obscene content.
The policies as outlined raise significant concerns about the tremendous administrative burden this will place on school librarians, superintendents, and school board members as they are asked to read and review thousands of books and other library-related materials.
Shifting educators’ focus away from teaching, resulting in loss of valuable instructional time, does a disservice to the students of Texas at a time when many are struggling to catch up after two years of challenges due to the pandemic.
As professional educators, school librarians are partners with parents in their school community. TLA and TASL strongly support parents’ rights to determine what their children read; however, one parent or a small group of parents cannot decide what is appropriate for all students.
TLA and TASL look forward to working with superintendents and school board members as current collection development and reconsideration policies are evaluated to ensure process transparency and effectiveness.