Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to pull back the curricular curtain.
Arguing that some schools purposefully keep parents in the dark on coursework, DeSantis signed a bill Friday that gives families the right to know what goes on once the bell rings.
“There are some who say parents don’t even have a right to know what is being taught,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “There’s actually some places where you can make serious decisions for these kids and not inform the parents about it. That is not going to fly in the state of Florida.”
The Republican governor asserted that sexually graphic books have found their way into school libraries across the country — and that his bill will allow parents to lodge complaints without administrative reprisal.
“Some people say if you don’t have every book under the sun in the library that you want to ban books,” DeSantis said. “That’s not true.”
Calling some of the items “incredibly disturbing” and inappropriate for young children, DeSantis said schools should not be able to play curricular keep away.
Florida parent Rebecca Sarwi, of Volusia County, said she was distressed to discover a sexually explicit book in her school’s library.
“It’s been an eye-opening experience to the lengths they would assert their power,” she said.
Sarwi said her kids were being immersed in age inappropriate material “from all angles” and “without our knowledge or consent or availability to view prior.”
The mom said she grew so disillusioned that she ultimately withdrew her kids from public school and educated them at home.
“But not every family will be able to do the same,” she said. “This is why this legislation is so important. Ensuring transparency in our children’s curriculum and building back trust where is has been so terribly broken.”
Bitter confrontations have erupted between parents, teachers, administrators and school board members in recent years over everything from masking and vaccine policies to classroom subject matter.
‘You do have some people who get elected to these school boards who are ideological,” DeSantis said. “They are backed by special interests and they have certain ideas that are not necessarily in the best interests of the kids, the parents and I would argue the teachers.”
The polarizing governor, considered a potential 2024 Republican presidential nominee, contended that secretive schools are rare in Florida — but that he wanted to ensure parental access regardless.
“Nobody is more invested in the well-being of their kids than the parents themselves.” he said.
DeSantis attributed a wave of new parental activism to the pandemic, asserting that families were abruptly exposed to their kids’ coursework during remote learning.
The new bill will also place term limits for Florida school board members.