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A San Antonio-area school district is examining the content of more than 400 books that were flagged in a Republican lawmaker’s investigation into the titles schools keep in their libraries.
The Northeast Independent School District, one of the largest districts in the state, is apparently the first district to respond directly to state representative Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, whose investigation in late October brought targeted books that concern race or sexuality or “make students uncomfortable.”
“For us, it is not about politics or censorship, but rather about ensuring that parents choose what is suitable for their minor children,” said Aubrey Chancellor, spokesperson for ISD North, on Monday. -East. “As a precaution, NEISD has asked our staff to review the books on the Krause List to ensure that they did not contain any obscene or vulgar content.”
Krause, a member of the Die-hard Conservative House Freedom Caucus who chairs the House General Inquiry Committee, has produced a list of around 850 books that deal with race and sexuality – mostly written by women, people. of color and LGBTQ writers – and asked school districts if they had them in their libraries.
Krause has not said how he developed the list or what he plans to do with the information he collects, saying he does not want to “compromise” an ongoing or potential investigation by his committee.
Northeast ISD officials determined that they had 414 of the titles Krause reported in their school libraries. More than 100 books have already been found to be age-appropriate, the Chancellor said.
“This review process is proceeding apace and we anticipate that the majority of the books will be deemed appropriate,” she said.
In addition to reviewing the titles, the school district forms a committee to determine if certain books should be placed in a separate section of their libraries. The district is also adding an electronic tool that parents can use to see what books their children are viewing in the library.
An online petition, which garnered 821 signatures, has since surfaced calling on the district to stop its review of the Krause List, arguing that the reported books serve a purpose for students of color and the LGBTQ community.
“Many black and LGBT NEISD students are appalled and hurt by NEISD’s decision to comply with Matt Krause and remove our harmless resources and stories,” the petition read.
School districts were divided over how to respond to Krause’s investigation, with the Fort Worth Independent School District saying it would comply and school districts in Austin and Dallas pushing it aside.
The North East ISD ruling is the latest chapter in the recent debate in Texas over how race and sexuality are taught in schools – a debate in which Governor Greg Abbott also intervened.
Last month, Abbott called on state education officials to develop statewide standards to block books with “overtly sexual” content in schools. Executives from the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education have said they will comply. The governor also asked the TEA to launch an investigation into the possible “availability of pornography” in schools.
Shannon Holmes, executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said in a statement that the organization respects North East ISD’s decision to comply with Krause’s request, but criticized the burden the investigation poses. on the time and resources of the districts.
“We continue to question the wisdom of a state legislator asking school districts to embark on these long and expensive investigations at a time when they already struggle to maintain the staffing levels necessary to conduct normal operations. “said Holmes.
Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators has financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial support plays no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list of them here.