How Faith-Based, Right-Wing Money Is Waging War through Book Bans
A slew of legislation across the U.S. only furthers this part of their agenda.
By Kelly Jensen
How do book challenges relate to the disintegration of public education? While it seems that book challenges are about removing any discussion of people of color and queer people from classrooms — a truth worth acknowledging — it’s much bigger than that. Book challenges are one of the many prongs being used by right-wing, faith-based groups to destroy public education as a whole in order to fight for school choice, vouchers, and a white-washed, “liberty” centric history.
It sounds like a conspiracy theory. It’s not.
School board meetings have been inundated with angry parents, many aligned with groups like Moms for Liberty or No Left Turn or variations of similar local “parents rights” groups. They’re attending the meetings and fighting against books in the curriculum or libraries that go against their faith-based beliefs. In addition, they’re monitoring school boards for vacancies and being trained by groups with deep pockets to run for those very boards as a means of destroying the system from the inside. Further groups, including conservative, Christian-aligned publishers like Brave Books and Heroes of Liberty, begin to donate these titles to schools and libraries while also spending scads of cash to rally more parents to request these titles for library and classroom collections (see: “Moms of Libraries,” as well as library workers noticing an uptick in requests for books from either of these so-called “publishers” — these publishers are backed by dark money and money from major groups like the Heritage Foundation).
Book challenges are a tremendous waste of time for schools and their employees. The costs are high in time and in money, and they become a convenient arguing point for these groups, who can point to this as educational bureaucracy and a poor use of taxpayer money. If the books weren’t there in the first place, staff wouldn’t need to spend all of this time creating policies and procedures nor following them.
A slew of legislation across the U.S. only furthers this part of the agenda. In states like Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, and several others, politicians with established ties to these faith-based groups are proposing that schools now list every single book they own on their website so parents have quick access. It’s “transparency,” despite the fact that every single book in a library is available for parents to peruse via the library’s catalog. But by demanding a list, they’re wasting more time, more effort, and more money, further amplifying their message of how public schools are poorly using taxpayer dollars.
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