Tennessee gov plans to sign school library scrutiny bill

May 2, 2022 GMT

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Monday he plans to sign a bill that would would let a politically appointed panel remove books from public school libraries statewide through a new veto power over local school board decisions.

The Republican’s comments to reporters come the week after GOP supermajorities in the legislature passed the bill. The proposal would give the politically appointed state textbook commission ultimate say in an appeals process over whether a book can or can’t stay in school libraries.

When someone challenges a book, the elected school board makes a ruling. Under the bill, if a parent, student or school worker doesn’t like the decision, they could appeal to the textbook commission, whose choice will apply to school libraries statewide.

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Lee said the legislation “creates another step of oversight.”

Already, the governor proposed and signed legislation that requires school libraries to post their contents online and regularly review their policies to make sure materials are “age-appropriate” and “suitable” for the children.

Advocates of scrutinizing school library materials have said changes are necessary to boost transparency. Their calls come amid a national spike in book challenges and bans.

Librarians have countered that schools already have policies for parents and educators to review library materials.