✅ Ban book bans

A stack of books in Sacramento on Sept. 8, 2023.
A stack of books in Sacramento on Sept. 8, 2023. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

By Carolyn Jones


Proposed by Assemblymember Corey Jackson, a Democrat from Moreno Valley, AB 1078 would penalize school boards that ban books and other education materials based solely on the materials’ inclusion of history related to Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ people and other groups. It would amend the existing education code, which requires teaching materials to include the experiences and perspectives of diverse racial, ethnic and LGBTQ groups in curriculum. 


Gov. Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond have been vocal proponents of the bill, approved by the Legislature along party lines. The American Civil Liberties Union is also in favor, writing: “To achieve equity in our public schools requires that students of all genders, Black, Indigenous, Latine, and LGBTQ+ students, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups see themselves reflected and respected in libraries, curricula, and classroom discussions–in every class, every grade, every day.”


The California School Boards Association is against, saying that California already has a lengthy public process for adopting curricula, and that this bill would further inflame tensions between the state and local school boards. The Orange County Board of Education wrote: “This is a heavy-handed policy that is completely unnecessary and detrimental to school operations and financial stability. School districts are perfectly capable of making these decisions and procuring books and instructional materials accordingly. Furthermore, the responsibility of deciding what curriculum to adopt and what curriculum and books to discard should remain with the local school boards who are accountable to the parents, and the voters who elected them, and who are most closely affected by these decisions.”


The bill would stand in contrast to moves in Florida and other states to ban books featuring the history and perspectives of diverse groups of people. It also comes amid escalating sparring between Newsom and Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis over “culture war” issues and other policies. In California, the bill would exert the state’s power over local school boards, which have largely operated with autonomy.


Newsom announced Sept. 25 that he signed the bill. In a video, he bemoaned what he called a “cultural purge” that is “criminalizing teachers and librarians.” “This is long overdue, and this banning binge has to come to an end,” he said.